col·​lo·​qui·​al·​ism | \ kə-ˈlō-kwē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce colloquialism (audio) \

Definition of colloquialism

1a : a colloquial expression "Chicken out" is a colloquialism for "to lose one's nerve."
b : a local or regional dialect expression "Bodacious" originated as a Southern colloquialism.
2 : colloquial style the appeal of the author's colloquialism

Examples of colloquialism in a Sentence

His English is very good, but he has trouble understanding certain colloquialisms.
Recent Examples on the Web This colloquialism equally applies to Black businesses struggling to survive the covid-19 recession — after already being at a disadvantage because of decades of discrimination in lending and other business practices. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, "Black businesses are fighting for their lives. We can’t afford to lose them.," 20 Nov. 2020 In the conversation secretly recorded by Daly during lunch with Lamey at Rick's Boatyard Cafe in Indianapolis, Lamey does not mention the woodpile slur Daly characterizes as an Irish colloquialism. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, "Derek Daly secretly records Bob Lamey in effort to support Daly's lawsuits over use of a racial slur," 26 June 2020 Only then does the human take over, cleaning up language and capturing more subtle nuances, for instance translating colloquialisms and metaphors that machines still struggle to translate as well as humans. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "IBM’s A.I. Can Now Mine People’s Collective Thoughts. Will Businesses Use This Data Thoughtfully?," 12 Dec. 2019 Yes, part of it is their accents — Rae is Scottish and Smyth is Irish — but their enthusiasm and colloquialisms are addictive. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "You might want to try watching Amazon Prime's NFL coverage on Thursday. Here's why," 12 Dec. 2019 This exhibit starts with the abstract metaphor, or colloquialism, and works backwards. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "There’s a pop-up art museum downtown that literally lets you walk in another Denverite’s shoes," 27 Aug. 2019 For generations, teachers of literature presented students with the American experiences of Roderick Usher’s paranoia, Huckleberry Finn’s colloquialism, Jay Gatsby’s ambition, Holden Caulfield’s disenchantment. Matthew A. Watson, The Atlantic, "Teaching Toni Morrison," 13 Aug. 2019 Hare's innovations to the text are mostly subtle and cosmetic: trimming some of the monologues, adding a few modern colloquialisms to the dialogue and shifting the later events outside rather than inside. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review," 31 July 2019 If nothing else, @amyklobuchar wins the first round of folksy colloquialisms that others might actually use. Dave Orrick, Twin Cities, "Amy Klobuchar had 8 minutes, 16 seconds to speak to America. Here’s how she spent them.," 26 June 2019

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

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First Known Use of colloquialism

1810, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for colloquialism

see colloquy

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Time Traveler for colloquialism

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The first known use of colloquialism was in 1810

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Statistics for colloquialism

Cite this Entry

“Colloquialism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for colloquialism



English Language Learners Definition of colloquialism

: a word or phrase that is used mostly in informal speech : a colloquial expression


col·​lo·​qui·​al·​ism | \ kə-ˈlō-kwē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce colloquialism (audio) \

Kids Definition of colloquialism

: a word or expression used in or suited to familiar and informal conversation

More from Merriam-Webster on colloquialism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for colloquialism

Nglish: Translation of colloquialism for Spanish Speakers

Comments on colloquialism

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