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 \ -​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

The automated calls are narrated by someone pretending to be Gillum and using an exaggerated minstrel dialect with jungle noises in the background. Dylan Scott, Vox, "How racist robocalls and an FBI inquiry are shaking up the Florida governor’s race," 7 Nov. 2018 If most of the dialect is appropriately historical, the attitudes aren’t. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Review: ‘Sugar in Our Wounds’ May Make You Cry About the Past, and the Present," 19 June 2018 This clash of cultures has resulted in a delightfully layered nation where the official languages are Dutch, English, and Papiamentu, which is a mix of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and some African dialects. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "The Best Things to Do, Eat, and See in Curaçao," 8 Jan. 2019 Like a Mediterranean Cornwall, Salento, at the tip of Italy’s heel, is both a land’s end peninsula and a crossroads of cultures (some locals still speak an ancient Greek dialect). Lee Marshall, Condé Nast Traveler, "Puglia's Insider Address: Palazzo Daniele," 24 Dec. 2018 In another, self-esteem is only obtainable via injection in a post-apocalyptic school district, while in the collection’s title story, a salesman learns to translate the peculiar dialect of zombie-like Black Friday shoppers. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "10 new sci-fi and fantasy books to check out for the rest of October," 15 Oct. 2018 Growing up on the western frontier of the Tang empire, Li Po spoke a Turkish dialect as his mother tongue. Yunte Huang, WSJ, "‘The Banished Immortal’ Review: ‘Heaven Begot a Talent Like Me’," 11 Jan. 2019 One official said the leader of the Israeli group, reportedly a member of Israel’s Arab Druze minority, spoke the local dialect fluently and remained calm. Fares Akram, The Seattle Times, "Palestinians offer new details of Israel’s botched Gaza raid," 12 Dec. 2018 Bushmaster, the primary villain, speaks in Jamaican Patois—a dialect that the captions seem determined to clean up and clarify. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "I Rely On Closed Captions to Enjoy a Show And I Don't Appreciate Netflix's Way of Censoring Them," 10 July 2018

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

20 Apr 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

an act or instance of returning to life

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!