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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

These reviews help make voice recognition systems more inclusive of different accents and dialects across languages. Los Angeles Times, "Facebook gets German data probe into voice transcriptions," 26 Aug. 2019 And a lot of the dialect {in the play} reflects the South in general. al, "‘Choir Boy’ is Carlton Bell’s black, queer, and unapologetic tribute to Birmingham," 23 Aug. 2019 English also had thou/you until Shakespearean times, but the informal thou was eventually lost (and retained only by some dialects, for example in Yorkshire). Michelle Sheehan, Quartz, "Five reasons English speakers struggle to learn other languages," 3 July 2019 The production is directed by Jeffrey Lo and also stars TheatreWorks veterans Francis Jue and Emily Kuroda as a couple who are the last people who speak a soon-to-disappear dialect. Randy Mcmullen, The Mercury News, "TheatreWorks opens 50th season with bittersweet ‘Language Archive’," 5 July 2019 As many as 200,000 Cree live in Canada, though not all of them speak a dialect of the language, according to Arok Wolvengrey, professor of Algonquian languages and linguistics at First Nations University of Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Holy mayo! Heinz's new condiment Mayochup includes a bad word," 4 June 2019 Speaking a bizarre family dialect to each other, brother and sister never seem to talk about anything that matters. Tim Parks, Harper's magazine, "Behind the High Walls," 10 Feb. 2019 These reviews help make voice recognition systems more inclusive of different accents and dialects across languages. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Google will pause listening to EU voice recordings while regulators investigate," 1 Aug. 2019 Sailors learn each other’s languages and develop hybrid dialects. The Economist, "Born 200 years ago, Herman Melville was globalisation’s first great bard," 18 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dialect

Statistics for dialect

Last Updated

21 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dialect

The first known use of dialect was in 1566

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!