con·​ver·​sant | \ kən-ˈvər-sᵊnt also ˈkän-vər-sənt How to pronounce conversant (audio) \

Definition of conversant

1 : having knowledge or experience used with withconversant with modern historyis conversant with the operating system of the computer
2 archaic : having frequent or familiar association
3 archaic : concerned, occupied

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Did You Know?

The adjectives "conversant" and "conversational" are related; both are descendants of Latin conversari, meaning "to associate with." The earliest English meaning of "conversant" in the 1300s was simply "having familiar association." One way to associate with others is to have a conversation with them - in other words, to talk. For a short time in the 19th century "conversant" could mean "relating to or suggesting conversation," but for the most part that meaning stayed with "conversational" while "conversant" went in a different direction. Today, "conversant" is sometimes used, especially in the United States, with the meaning "able to talk in a foreign language," as in "she is conversant in several languages," but it is more often associated with knowledge or familiarity, as in "conversant with the issues."

Examples of conversant in a Sentence

She's conversant in several languages. a world traveler who is highly conversant with the customs of foreign cultures
Recent Examples on the Web But no one conversant with the history of ballot proposition campaigns or the uncertainties of government fiscal projections has a right to be surprised. Los Angeles Times, "Column: California’s pot tax came in way below projections — and not for the reason you think," 17 Oct. 2019 Holly is fluent in Spanish and Quechua—the main indigenous language spoken in the Andes— and is conversant in both American and Peruvian Sign Languages. National Geographic, "Holly Wissler," 10 Sep. 2019 Morrison made her audiences conversant in her — the metaphors of trauma, the melodramas of psychology. Wesley Morris, New York Times, "Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Think," 7 Aug. 2019 Holly is fluent in Spanish and Quechua, the main indigenous language spoken in the Andes, and is conversant in both American and Peruvian Sign Languages. National Geographic, "Peru & the Amazon High School Expedition," 12 June 2019 Naiden is already conversant in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German and knows some Russian. Tammy Ayer, The Seattle Times, "Beloved Yakima doctor who delivered more than 15,000 babies celebrates retirement," 3 June 2019 Even toddlers, not yet conversant in hamachi and unagi, eat seaweed in little crisp packages as SeaSnax. Tamar Adler, Vogue, "Is Seaweed the Perfect Food?," 15 Feb. 2019 Monroe is conversant in everything from quantum mechanics to evolution to cosmetology, and then can connect it all to the state of uncertainty that art museums across the country are currently facing. Jackie Mansky, Smithsonian, "The Neuroscientist in the Art Museum," 19 June 2018 The ideal candidate will be deeply conversant with science and technology and can independently research complex technical issues. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica is hiring a senior writer," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conversant.' 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 conversant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for conversant

see converse entry 1

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Time Traveler for conversant

Time Traveler

The first known use of conversant was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Conversant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

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How to pronounce conversant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of conversant

formal used to say that someone knows about something or has experience with it + with
US : able to talk in a foreign language

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More from Merriam-Webster on conversant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for conversant

Spanish Central: Translation of conversant

Britannica English: Translation of conversant for Arabic Speakers

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