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 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 The middle section of the picture, dominated by Hoffa’s machinations and jury tampering and whatnot, settles for a more routine sort of underworld movie, though there’s nothing routine about Pacino’s bizarre notion of a generic midwestern dialect. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "‘The Irishman’ review: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci revisit the tyranny of the mob ... and keep getting younger and younger," 23 Oct. 2019 And India's languages — more than two dozen of them, with hundreds of different dialects — are the next frontier for global tech companies. Rishi Iyengar, CNN, "Amazon just added India's most popular language to Alexa," 18 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile in the Sirkhi dialect of Dargwa, a language spoken in the Russian republic of Dagestan, the word-form dard expresses the concept of grief, but also that of anxiety. Cassie Werber, Quartz, "Happiness and grief change depending what language you’re speaking," 22 Dec. 2019 This article was co-published with Khabar Lahariya, an Indian digital news platform in various rural dialects of Hindi, including Bundeli, Bajjika, and Awadhi. Nikita Joseph, Quartz India, "“They pluck out hearts of children”—how fake news is crippling Indian villages with anxiety," 17 Sep. 2019 As the newscaster’s hair is cut into a bob and she is trained in a non-regional dialect, her body and her voice fall under network control. Amanda Hess, New York Times, "The Sexual Predator’s TV Wife," 23 Dec. 2019 One player’s primary language is a rural dialect from Guatemala. Eric Sondheimercolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Belmont High football coach Scott McLane finds inspiration in trying times," 19 July 2019 Europe is about diversity, and its patchwork of languages and dialects must be promoted and protected. The Economist, "Brexit is the ideal moment to make English the EU’s common language," 15 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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Time Traveler for dialect

Time Traveler

The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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Statistics for dialect

Last Updated

26 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialects. Accessed 26 January 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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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).


to express in a more acceptable way

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