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

Other Words from dialect

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Today, the Beijing dialect is spoken by most Chinese. WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 On resale sites that are dominated by women, this language style is almost a dialect. Glamour, 28 Apr. 2022 So, is Ukrainian a dialect of Russian or a separate language? Joshua Holzer, The Conversation, 18 Apr. 2022 The fighters were led by foreign militants, not Syrians, many of whom spoke in Iraqi dialect. NBC News, 21 Jan. 2022 The document's author took issue with an internal survey of employees in the Casablanca office that indicated these contractors were capable of handling content in every Arabic dialect. Rishi Iyengar, CNN, 26 Oct. 2021 Epara, founded by Ozohu Adoh, means to cocoon oneself in the Nigerian dialect Ebira. Vogue, 10 Mar. 2022 In Smith, director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) recognized a work ethic that went beyond hours of dialect work and physicality. Joshua Rothkopf, EW.com, 8 Mar. 2022 The blarney is still strong here (lapsing into Irish dialect is an occupational hazard of reading him), but these characters also act. Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for dialect

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The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for dialect


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

More from Merriam-Webster on dialect

Nglish: Translation of dialect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dialect for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dialect


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