dialect

noun, often attributive
di·​a·​lect | \ ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio) \

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
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 How to pronounce dialectal (audio) \ adjective
dialectally \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈlek-​tə-​lē How to pronounce dialectally (audio) \ 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

In her dialect group this word doesn’t mean disheartened. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Is Poverty Necessary?," 10 June 2019 Marchers of all ages took part, some pushing strollers and others carrying canes, chanting slogans in the native Cantonese dialect in favor of greater transparency in government. Christopher Bodeen, BostonGlobe.com, "Hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong against proposed extradition law," 9 June 2019 The next step is to research more nonstandard dialects. Cassie Owens, https://www.inquirer.com, "Philly judges discuss language access following study of court reporters," 5 June 2019 Mayochup, a portmanteau of mayonnaise and ketchup, means something decidedly less tasty, or tasteful for that matter, in a dialect of the language spoken by the Cree, a large First Nations group. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Holy mayo! Heinz's new condiment Mayochup includes a bad word," 4 June 2019 For his portrayal of Prince Albert in the Masterpiece PBS series, the British actor worked with a dialect coach to perfect his speech. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Watch Victoria's Tom Hughes in an Exclusive New Clip of the WWII Spy Drama Red Joan," 19 Apr. 2019 The 59-year-old plays guitar in a local band called Ground Zero, which dedicated a song in Venetian dialect to the plight of the market. Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, "As Venice Natives Vanish, Life Drains From an Ancient Market," 22 Dec. 2018 While most Tibetan residents in Yushu still converse with one another in a Tibetan dialect, Mr. Tashi worried that the growing primacy of Chinese would leave future generations of Tibetans strangers to their native language. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "A Tibetan Tried to Save His Language. China Handed Him 5 Years in Prison.," 22 May 2018 Take ten million trees, 3.9 million people, 180 languages and dialects, the 7th largest stock exchange, the longest street in the world, and a renowned film festival. Mosha Lundström Halbert, Vogue, "The Cool Girl’s Guide to Toronto," 27 Dec. 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

15 Jun 2019

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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 How to pronounce dialect (audio) \

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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