in·​ter·​loc·​u·​tor | \ˌin-tər-ˈlä-kyə-tər \

Definition of interlocutor 

1 : one who takes part in dialogue or conversation

2 : a man in the middle of the line in a minstrel show who questions the end men and acts as leader

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Did You Know?

Interlocutor derives from the Latin interloqui, meaning "to speak between" or "to issue an interlocutory decree." (An interlocutory decree is a court judgment that comes in the middle of a case and is not decisive.) Interloqui, in turn, ultimately comes from the words inter-, "between," and loqui, "to speak." Some other words that English borrowed from loqui are loquacious ("talkative"), circumlocution (essentially, "talking around a subject"), ventriloquism ("talking in such a way that one's voice seems to come from someone or something else"), eloquent ("capable of fluent or vivid speech"), and grandiloquence ("extravagant or pompous speech").

Examples of interlocutor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was set to meet his primary North Korean interlocutor, senior official Kim Yong Chol, before the meeting was abruptly canceled by the North Koreans. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "North Korea Keeping Up Work on Missile Sites, Report Says," 12 Nov. 2018 And for better or worse, Trump has chosen Saudi Arabia as its main interlocutor and leading Arab ally in confronting Tehran. Souad Mekhennet, The Seattle Times, "Nations fear fallout could trigger instability in the region," 23 Oct. 2018 The 47-year-old Cruz, who has been known since his Princeton debate team days as a gleefully caustic interlocutor, clearly arrived in the meeting chamber in the Hart Senate Office Building with a plan of attack. Nash Jenkins, Time, "The Mark Zuckerberg vs. Ted Cruz Showdown Was the Most Explosive Part of Today's Facebook Testimony," 10 Apr. 2018 For months, the Chinese cultivated Mr. Mnuchin as part of a concerted effort to establish him as the primary American interlocutor. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Chances of China Trade Win Undercut by Trump Team Infighting," 21 May 2018 China, a key North Korean interlocutor, is now edging toward a trade war with the Trump administration. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump said North Korea was ‘no longer a nuclear threat.’ His spies disagree.," 2 July 2018 More recently, Rosenstein has emerged as one of the chief interlocutors for House Republicans seeking sensitive information about the ongoing investigation., "‘Shaken’ Rosenstein felt used by White House in Comey firing," 30 June 2018 Like court nominees before him, Judge Kavanaugh will frustrate his interlocutors with nonanswers so as not to tip his hand on future cases before the court. The Christian Science Monitor, "A big question for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee," 10 July 2018 The list goes on, but the theme of US disengaging as an interlocutor in the world community and instead speaking for itself, America First, as Trump would say, is everywhere. Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, "Trump's new world order," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'interlocutor.' 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 interlocutor

1514, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for interlocutor

Latin interloqui to speak between, issue an interlocutory decree, from inter- + loqui to speak

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for interlocutor

The first known use of interlocutor was in 1514

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English Language Learners Definition of interlocutor

: a person who is having a conversation with you

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More from Merriam-Webster on interlocutor

Spanish Central: Translation of interlocutor

Britannica English: Translation of interlocutor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about interlocutor

Comments on interlocutor

What made you want to look up interlocutor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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