dialect

noun, often attributive
di·a·lect | \ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt \

Definition of dialect 

1 linguistics

a : 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

b : one of two or more cognate (see cognate entry 1 sense 3a) languages French and Italian are Romance dialects

c : a variety of a language used by the members of a group such dialects as politics and advertising— Philip Howard

d : a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (such as social class) spoke a rough peasant dialect

e : register sense 4c

f : a version of a computer programming language

2 : manner or means of expressing oneself : phraseology

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Other Words from dialect

dialectal \ˌdī-ə-ˈlek-tᵊl \ adjective
dialectally \-tə-lē \ adverb

Dialectic: Logic Through Conversation

Dialectic is a term used in philosophy, and the fact that it is closely connected to the ideas of Socrates and Plato is completely logical—even from an etymological point of view. Plato’s famous dialogues frequently presented Socrates playing a leading role, and dialogue comes from the Greek roots dia- (“through” or “across”) and -logue (“discourse” or “talk”). Dialect and dialectic come from dialecktos (“conversation” or “dialect”) and ultimately back to the Greek word dialegesthai, meaning “to converse.”

Conversation or dialogue was indeed at the heart of the “Socratic method,” through which Socrates would ask probing questions which cumulatively revealed his students’ unsupported assumptions and misconceptions. The goal, according to the definition in our Unabridged Dictionary, was to “elicit a clear and consistent expression of something supposed to be implicitly known by all rational beings.”

Other philosophers had specific uses of the term dialectic, including Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Kantianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism. Asking a series of questions was considered by Socrates a method of “giving birth” to the truth, and a related word, maieutic, defined as “relating to or resembling the Socratic method of eliciting new ideas from another,” comes from the Greek word meaning “of midwifery.”

Examples of dialect in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Stallworth can instantly switch between dialects, something many people of color might find familiar. Sonia Rao, chicagotribune.com, "'What's up with that white voice?': The tricky art of linguistic code-switching," 14 July 2018 The cafeteria served congee and snow peas, and the staff offered services and classes in not just Mandarin, but also the multiple southern Chinese dialects that are commonly spoken in Chinatown. Frank Shyong, latimes.com, "Chinatown's only hospital will reopen as an outpatient clinic," 6 July 2018 Germans north of the border sometimes have trouble understanding Bavarians, and not just because of the distinctive local dialects. Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, "Bavaria: Affluent, Picturesque — and Angry," 30 June 2018 But then there is the anodyne Orange County dialect in Dirty John. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "Seduce Me! The Untainted Sweet Sounds of Accent-Riddled Podcasts," 1 June 2018 In the Iñupiaq language, they’re called either iktuġat or aqutim aksivautana, depending on dialect. Krista Langlois, Smithsonian, "Why Scientists Are Starting to Care About Cultures Who Talk to Whales," 6 Apr. 2018 About to retire, Blocker, who over the years has learned Yellow Hawk’s Northern Cheyenne dialect, is given one last assignment — very much against his will. Kenneth Turan, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘Hostiles’ continues the Western renaissance," 5 Jan. 2018 Sun Juong much preferred her own Northwestern dialect of P'yŏng'an. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Algren Award runner-up: "Most Best Happy Korean Bright Star" by Michelle Massie," 2 June 2018 The lack of effort in keeping the dialect in the captioning throughout the series [disappointed me]. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "I Rely On Closed Captions to Enjoy a Show And I Don't Appreciate Netflix's Way of Censoring Them," 10 July 2018

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

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dialect

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

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Statistics for dialect

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for dialect

The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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More Definitions for dialect

dialect

noun

English Language Learners Definition of dialect

: a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations

dialect

noun
di·a·lect | \ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt \

Kids Definition of dialect

: a form of a language that is spoken in a certain region or by a certain group

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Comments on dialect

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