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 There are at least six Basque dialects, but the majority of Basques speak a standardized version developed in the 1960s. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How the Basques became an autonomous community within Spain," 24 Oct. 2019 There Korean immigrants developed their own institutions and spoke their own dialect of Korean. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Born in Uzbekistan With Korean Roots, Jenia Kim Is Redefining the Notion of National Dress," 16 Oct. 2019 Set, Paige Hathaway; costumes, Ivania Stack; lighting, Martha Mountain; sound, Tosin Olufolabi; music direction, Kevin McAllister; dialects, Kim James Bey. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "Mean girls are at home in Ghana, too," 24 Sep. 2019 The flicker of her eyelids is a dialect unto itself. Time, "Thailand: Kingdom of Opportunity," 30 Aug. 2019 Many hotel workers speak with accents: Eastern European, Central American, Southern dialects from the inner city to the Appalachians. Beth Thames | Bethmthames@gmail.com, al, "Show minimum wage workers some respect," 4 Sep. 2019 The local dialect is unfamiliar to the New Jersey native. Adam Baum, Cincinnati.com, "Musketeers abroad: Xavier's travel log from Spain with freshman Zach Freemantle," 12 Aug. 2019 Glasgow, Scotland Why go: A historic center of learning, shipbuilding, and trade, Scotland’s most populous city is renowned for its unique dialect and character. Kelly Barrett, National Geographic, "Travelers loved these places so much, they decided to stay," 17 July 2019 Even then, ordinary folk continued speaking their own dialects, which, across great enough distances—say from Milan to Naples—were and remain mutually incomprehensible. The Economist, "Latin is dead—yet it also lives on," 8 June 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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Statistics for dialect

Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for dialect

The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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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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Comments on dialect

What made you want to look up dialect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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