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

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Other Words from colloquial

colloquial noun
colloquiality \ kə-​ˌlō-​kwē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce colloquiality (audio) \ noun
colloquially \ kə-​ˈlō-​kwē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce colloquially (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- 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

More news Odd in Oregon ROSE FRACAS: A KGW anchor’s colloquial language and local clown ignorance sparked outrage during 1975 Rose Fest parade., "Police shoot, kill man after altercation in Pearl District stairwell: Morning Briefing," 10 June 2019 Other state rules vary widely, from no regulations on packaging and advertising, to detailed prohibitions like those in Massachusetts against cartoons on the package or colloquial references to marijuana in a dispensary logo. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "10 things to look for in a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona," 29 June 2019 The pieces which followed continued in a similarly colloquial vein, including a playful solo by Prathyaya Ramesh depicting a mother imparting three values to her child: respect your elders, speak the truth and help those in need. Lauren Warnecke,, "'Internal Geometry' by Natya Dance Theatre is hardly radical but has women telling the story," 15 June 2019 But its effects on deer, elk and other cervids - weight loss, stumbling, listlessness and certain death - have inspired a creepier colloquial name: Zombie deer disease., "A deadly deer disease is spreading and could infect humans," 14 June 2019 But its effects on deer, elk and other cervids – weight loss, stumbling, listlessness and certain death – have inspired a creepier colloquial name: Zombie deer disease. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A deadly deer disease is spreading. Could it strike people, too?," 14 June 2019 But even more so, its vibrant color—Gen Z yellow, which is quickly entering the zeitgeist with the same force that millennial pink did a few years ago—is tied to a younger generation per its colloquial name. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Lil Uzi Vert’s Color of Choice Puts Gen Z Yellow to Shame," 29 Jan. 2019 There were plenty of other reasons to make movies which might be more clear now that now that the medium is so accessible and colloquial, but certainly back then, no one thought of filmmaking in that way. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Miranda July Talks #MeToo, Tech, and Joanie4Jackie," 16 Oct. 2018 Baldwin’s prose ranges from richly colloquial to soaringly, sometimes wrathfully lyrical. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Review: Love Hoping for Justice," 13 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of colloquial

1751, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for colloquial

see colloquy

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Statistics for colloquial

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for colloquial

The first known use of colloquial was in 1751

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More Definitions for colloquial



English Language Learners Definition of colloquial

: used when people are speaking in an informal way
: using an informal style


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

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Comments on colloquial

What made you want to look up colloquial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread over or through

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