di·​a·​lect ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio)
often attributive
: a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language
the Doric dialect of ancient Greek
a dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong
: one of two or more cognate (see cognate entry 1 sense 3a) languages
French and Italian are Romance dialects
: a variety of a language used by the members of a group
such dialects as politics and advertisingPhilip Howard
: a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (such as social class)
spoke a rough peasant dialect
: a version of a computer programming language
: manner or means of expressing oneself : phraseology
dialectal adjective
dialectally adverb

Example Sentences

They speak a southern dialect of French. The author uses dialect in his writing. The play was hard to understand when the characters spoke in dialect.
Recent Examples on the Web Howells’ praise of Dunbar’s use of dialect limited the poet’s ability to sell his other styles of writing. Minnita Daniel-cox, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Mar. 2023 Speech is also influenced by your regional dialect or ethnolect, which refers to the distinctive speech of specific groups of people. Erica Sweeney, Men's Health, 8 Feb. 2023 Her most famous book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, reflected the lyricism of the Black dialect and this literary technique became her signature. Rosalind Cummings-yeates, House Beautiful, 30 Jan. 2023 The city has its own dialect, currency, and courts, and differs culturally in many ways from mainland China. Quartz, 21 Dec. 2022 The exotic pièce de résistance comes from the Italo-Dalmatian dialect used in the song’s lyrics — immediate teleportation to cocktail hour on a deserted island. Spin Staff, SPIN, 16 Dec. 2022 Arokoyo is dedicated to documenting and reviving Nigerian languages such as Olùkùmi and Owé (a dialect of Yorùbá). Anna Luisa Daigneault, Discover Magazine, 2 June 2021 Garcia first knew marigolds as yej kua — their name in the Zapotec dialect of his native San Francisco Yateé, a village high up in the Sierra de Juarez. Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2022 The tiny village is home to around 200 villagers who speak an ancient and unusual dialect of Bavarian origin called Cimbro (or Cimbrian,) which was brought over by medieval settlers. Silvia Marchetti, CNN, 8 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dialect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French dialecte, from Latin dialectus, from Greek dialektos conversation, dialect, from dialegesthai to converse — more at dialogue

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dialect was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near dialect

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 1 Apr. 2023.

Kids Definition


di·​a·​lect ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio)
: a regional variety of a language differing from the standard language
: a variety of a language used by the members of a particular group or class
peasant dialect
dialectal adjective
dialectally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on dialect

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