di·​a·​lect ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio)
often attributive
: 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
: one of two or more cognate (see cognate entry 1 sense 3a) languages
French and Italian are Romance dialects
: a variety of a language used by the members of a group
such dialects as politics and advertisingPhilip Howard
: a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (such as social class)
spoke a rough peasant dialect
: a version of a computer programming language
: manner or means of expressing oneself : phraseology
dialectal adjective
dialectally 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 Born in rural Fujian, a coastal province in southern China, Mr. Wang grew up speaking Mandarin and a local Fujianese dialect. Amy Qin, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 All the new Galaxy phones, due in stores Jan. 31, will be packed with far more AI than before, including a feature that will provide live translation during phone calls in 13 languages and 17 dialects. Michael Liedtke, Fortune, 18 Jan. 2024 Westward expansion also influenced the development of the U.S.’s accents and dialects. Megan Ulu-Lani Boyanton, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Jan. 2024 Additionally, Aniston tried to find the words to describe Perry’s dialect, which became synonymous with Chandler Bing. Emily Longeretta, Variety, 11 Dec. 2023 In the future, the team plans to further investigate how individuals learn their dialects and whether smaller groups show their own distinct dialects within parks — and this could help researchers better understand the function of dialects. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Abdo’s music stands among these trailblazers, transcending boundaries of geography, dialect and cultures. Hala Mustafa, Billboard, 8 Jan. 2024 The formation of Lake Baikal in Siberia is reimagined, featuring the voice of a Buryat woman who can still recall some words in her endangered Buryat language (a Mongolian dialect). Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 12 Dec. 2023 The three matrilineal pods of southern resident whales — J pod, K pod and L pod — each communicate in their own specific dialect, and all are exceptionally bonded to their mothers. Caitlin Gibson, Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dialect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French dialecte, from Latin dialectus, from Greek dialektos conversation, dialect, from dialegesthai to converse — more at dialogue

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dialect was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near dialect

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


di·​a·​lect ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio)
: a regional variety of a language differing from the standard language
: a variety of a language used by the members of a particular group or class
peasant dialect
dialectal adjective
dialectally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on dialect

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