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 The characters’ behavior and language have a colloquialism to them that is supplemented by popular Spanish music, celebrations and, importantly, a sense of melodrama that has always been a distinctive part of local storytelling. Jamie Lang, Variety, 7 Oct. 2021 Titled At Your Big Age (a nod to the popular Black colloquialism describing someone who should be too grown for nonsense), the developing series will follow a group of Black Brits trying to survive their twenties. Ineye Komonibo,, 24 July 2021 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, 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, 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, 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, 12 Dec. 2019 This exhibit starts with the abstract metaphor, or colloquialism, and works backwards. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, 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, 13 Aug. 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.

See More

First Known Use of colloquialism

1810, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for colloquialism

see colloquy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About colloquialism

Time Traveler for colloquialism

Time Traveler

The first known use of colloquialism was in 1810

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near colloquialism




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for colloquialism

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Colloquialism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!