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

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 Spanish is a language spoken widely around the world, so there’s also no set standard, as different dialects and communities have their own preferences. Washington Post, "A guide to how gender-neutral language is developing around the world," 15 Dec. 2019 In our great-grandparents’ time—not so long ago, really—regional dialects and languages were what distinguished different communities. Mathieu Avanzi, Quartz, "Which cheek and how many? The origins of the other French kiss," 6 Nov. 2019 Antiquated haircuts, peculiar dialects and communal running perform the same function as church liturgies, national pledges of allegiance, fraternity hazing rituals and the secret handshake. Steele Brand, Time, "What Ancient Rome and Greece Can Teach Us About the Modern American Military," 20 Sep. 2019 With snappy dialogue embellished with British dialects and humor, the story is rife with stock characters from British comedies. Jerald Pierce, chicagotribune.com, "More than one mystery is afoot in Lifeline Theatre’s ‘Whose Body?’," 18 Sep. 2019 This April, Waverly Labs plans to ship an over-the-ear $199 interpreter device called Ambassador, which supports 20 languages and 42 dialects. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Translate this: How real-time translation breaks down barriers when you don't speak the language," 5 Feb. 2020 Seke is one of 637 languages and dialects that the Endangered Language Alliance has identified as being spoken across the five boroughs of New York and in New Jersey, which also has a diverse, global population. New York Times, "Just 700 Speak This Language (50 in the Same Brooklyn Building)," 7 Jan. 2020 Modern Hebrew drew not only from earlier forms of the language but from Polish, Yiddish, Russian, and various dialects of Arabic. Gal Koplewitz, The New Yorker, "Amos Oz and the Politics of the Hebrew Language," 12 Nov. 2019 Traces of Boontling — Anderson Valley’s local dialect, still spoken by a small number of locals — appear in many of the brewery’s materials. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "Anderson Valley Brewing to change hands but stay independent," 4 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for dialect

Time Traveler

The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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Statistics for dialect

Last Updated

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for dialect


How to pronounce dialect (audio)

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


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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