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 Historically, black on-air talent are told their dialect and speaking voices do not fit the public radio prototype. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Public radio backs ending ‘objectivity,’ admitting racism, paying ‘reparations’," 19 Jan. 2021 Visit now and the trails attract a diverse population that ranges from birdwatchers to long-distance bicyclists, and families who speak Spanish or a Chinese dialect rather than English. John King, SFChronicle.com, "After 45 years saving and restoring regional land, the East Bay’s top park official is stepping down," 25 Dec. 2020 Six separate dialect coaches worked with actors to ensure accuracy. Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times, "‘No Man’s Land’ makes the Syrian civil war a global conflict. Right down to the subtitles," 18 Nov. 2020 The team brought dialect consultants to identify idioms that people, especially Puerto Ricans, use in East Harlem, and make sure actors' pronunciation was accurate. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "How Miles Morales in his own Spider-Man video game confronts racial disparity in gaming," 14 Nov. 2020 The dialect coach for the Lord of the Rings movies, who also played Major Caluan Ematt in recent Star Wars films The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens, died March 31 due to the coronavirus, his rep told TMZ. Vulture Editors, Vulture, "All the Celebrities Who Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus," 9 Jan. 2021 Its authors speak more in the vapid America-can-do-no-wrong dialect of a CNN panel. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "The New Language of Forever War-Making," 17 Dec. 2020 The articles are written in an invented dialect that mimics English with a stereotypical Scottish accent. Amaryllisgardener, Harper's Magazine, "Scotched Efforts," 24 Nov. 2020 But when the dialect coach his agent hires turns out to be none other than his mind-blowing one-night stand, things get complicated. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: November romances bring mischief, star-crossed lovers, and hot dukes," 4 Dec. 2020

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

9 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 26 Feb. 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

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Comments on dialect

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