col·​lo·​qui·​al | \ kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \

Definition of colloquial

1a : used in or characteristic of familiar and informal conversation In colloquial English, "kind of" is often used for "somewhat" or "rather." also : unacceptably informal
b : using conversational style a colloquial writer
2 : of or relating to conversation : conversational colloquial expressions

Other Words from colloquial

colloquial noun
colloquiality \ kə-​ˌlō-​kwē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \ noun
colloquially \ kə-​ˈlō-​kwē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \ adverb

Did you know?

The noun colloquy was first used in English to refer to a conversation or dialogue, and when the adjective colloquial was formed from colloquy it had a similar focus. Over time, however, colloquial developed a more specific meaning related to language that is most suited to informal conversation—and it ultimately garnered an additional, disparaging implication of a style that seems too informal for a situation. Colloquy and colloquial trace back to the Latin verb colloqui, meaning "to converse." Colloqui in turn was formed by combining the prefix com- ("with") and loqui ("to speak"). Other conversational descendants of loqui in English include circumlocution, eloquent, loquacious, soliloquy, and ventriloquism.

Examples of colloquial in a Sentence

But I think part of this pickle that we're in—if I may be colloquial, even though I'm not running for office—is that we've lost their sense of responsibility. — Sarah Vowell, Entertainment Weekly, 24 Oct. 2008 Langston was the merriest and the most colloquial of them all. "Best party I've ever been given!" he said. — Gwendolyn Brooks, Booklist, 15 Oct. 1993 Mr. Salisbury's firsthand account is written in a fast-paced, chaotic and colloquial style, which often feels confused and hastily set down. — Susan Shapiro, New York Times Book Review, 10 Sept. 1989 Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words. — Thomas Jefferson, letter, 2 Jan. 1814 the new coworker's rudeness soon began—to use a colloquial expression—to rub me the wrong way a colloquial essay on what makes a marriage successful See More
Recent Examples on the Web This is true, not in the colloquial sense but in the literal sense: rocket science is a domain in which Musk has demonstrated some expertise. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 27 Apr. 2022 The hug is sort of a colloquial term—in fact, there isn’t an official medical definition of M.S. hug, according to a 2019 paper published in the journal Neurology2. Sara Gaynes Levy, SELF, 19 Apr. 2022 In April 2021, while India was battling the devastating second wave of covid-19, it was also hit by infections of black fungus, the colloquial term for mucormycosis. Manavi Kapur, Quartz, 6 Apr. 2022 Yet, most of us think of road rage as the colloquial term for any type of angry driving. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, 30 Mar. 2022 Presidents can’t speak in public on this subject in such a casual, colloquial manner, and a tone of calming down his caucus. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 His recordings encompassed songs in colloquial Sudanese and classical Arabic and works written by contemporary and historical poets. Washington Post, 16 Dec. 2021 Moreover, throughout her career, the singer has blatantly copied Black women’s aesthetics, wearing durags and African appropriative braids, and attempted a Caribbean persona, donning a caribeña accent and misusing colloquial terms. Melania Luisa Marte,, 23 Feb. 2022 The Ukrainian defensive line runs the length of the de facto border of the Donbas, the colloquial name for the Donets Basin, a mining and industrial region. Nils Adler, Los Angeles Times, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'colloquial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of colloquial

1751, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for colloquial

see colloquy

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Time Traveler for colloquial

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The first known use of colloquial was in 1751

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Colloquial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for colloquial


col·​lo·​qui·​al | \ kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \

Kids Definition of colloquial

: used in or suited to familiar and informal conversation colloquial language

More from Merriam-Webster on colloquial

Nglish: Translation of colloquial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of colloquial for Arabic Speakers


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