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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The dialect, traditional costumes and signature dishes are also Venetian -- although today this is part of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Julia Buckley, CNN, "The mini Venices around Europe," 20 Apr. 2021 The other one was the dialect in that movie about Steve Jobs. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, "Kate Winslet's toughest challenge? Playing TV detective," 15 Apr. 2021 The language of worship is a dialect of Aramaic, the language that Jesus is said to have spoken. Ramazan Kılınç, The Conversation, "Pope’s upcoming visit brings attention to the dwindling population of Christians in Iraq," 3 Mar. 2021 From Rabat to Baghdad, Arabs learned to mimic Egypt’s distinctive dialect by way of its wildly popular musicals and comedies. The Economist, "How Egyptian entertainment has changed under military rule," 10 Apr. 2021 Sometimes though, speakers will react to a conversational situation by employing an entirely different dialect or language. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "Conversation starter: Why we mirror speech," 6 Apr. 2021 With a style that conveys the musical cadence of a local dialect, Mbue creates the African village in all its ancient nuance. Washington Post, "In ‘How Beautiful We Were,’ an African village goes up against an American oil company," 16 Mar. 2021 Between the cigarettes, alcohol, vocal cord strain, and regular practice with her dialect coach, Andra nailed the slow gravel that Billie's fans were drawn to. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Does Andra Day Sing in 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday'? The Movie's Star Reveals Her Secrets," 6 Mar. 2021 Kayfabe, a dialect of pig Latin, lingo for the promise to drop at the laying on of hands. Gregory Pardlo, The New Yorker, "Allegory," 22 Feb. 2021

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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for dialect



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

Comments on dialect

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