glos·​so·​la·​lia ˌglä-sə-ˈlā-lē-ə How to pronounce glossolalia (audio)
glossolalist noun

Examples of glossolalia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The two bounced off each other in a glossolalia of gassing each other up. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 11 Dec. 2021 It’s tent-revival glossolalia made up of advertising slogans, memes and media jargon. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 16 Oct. 2020 In a small but effective artistic choice, characters talk in crackling, subtitled glossolalia, punctuated only by the occasional intelligible word. Adi Robertson, The Verge, 29 Apr. 2018 These gifts include healing, prophecy and glossolalia. The Economist, 4 Nov. 2017

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

Word History


probably borrowed from German Glossolalie, Glossolalia, from glosso- glosso- + Greek laliá "talk, speech" (from laléō, laleîn "to talk, chat"—of onomatopoeic origin— + -ia -ia entry 1), after Greek laleîn glṓssais and variants in the New Testament (as Acts 2:4), conventionally translated "to speak in tongues"

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of glossolalia was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near glossolalia

Cite this Entry

“Glossolalia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


glos·​so·​la·​lia ˌgläs-ə-ˈlā-lē-ə, ˌglȯs- How to pronounce glossolalia (audio)
: profuse and often emotionally charged speech that mimics coherent speech but is usually unintelligible to the listener and that is uttered in some states of religious ecstasy and in some schizophrenic states

More from Merriam-Webster on glossolalia

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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