in·​ter·​loc·​u·​tor ˌin-tər-ˈlä-kyə-tər How to pronounce interlocutor (audio)
: one who takes part in dialogue or conversation
: a man in the middle of the line in a minstrel show who questions the end men and acts as leader

Did you know?

It may not necessarily be grandiloquence to use the word interlocutor in casual speech, but if your interlocutors—that is, the people with whom you are speaking—are using it, your conversation is likely a formal one. Interlocutor is one of many English words that comes from the Latin verb loqui, “to speak,” including loquacious (“talkative”), eloquent (“capable of fluent or vivid speech”), and grandiloquence (“extravagant or pompous speech”). In interlocutor, loqui was joined to inter- forming a Latin word meaning “to speak between” or “to issue an interlocutory decree.” An interlocutory decree is a judicial decision that isn’t final, or that deals with a point other than the principal subject matter of the dispute.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Her interlocutor, Ellen Vora, meanwhile, was beaming in a floor-length floral dress with puffy sleeves. Lauren Oyler, Harper’s Magazine , 10 Apr. 2023 But Goertzel argues that these systems have a very limited understanding of themselves or their interlocutors, and this type of understanding would lead to better, safer interactions with humans. Calum Chace, Forbes, 22 Mar. 2023 Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, a frequent interlocutor over the years, recounted an abrupt shift in Putin’s demeanor during a recent phone call, with the Russian leader suddenly abandoning a normal conversational exchange to embark on a strident recital of demands. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2022 No participant stated that their interlocutor was behaving unusually or in a pre-prescribed manner during post-interaction interviews and debriefing. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 6 Sep. 2014 In one study, people consistently underestimated how much their interlocutors liked them and enjoyed their company after a conversation. Jelena Kecmanovic, Anchorage Daily News, 8 May 2023 So closely, in fact, that no one—not a single one of his interlocutors or the prime minister himself—ever brought up strikes, the NHS, or inflation. Cassie Werber, Quartz, 24 Apr. 2023 The difference from the China case is that both Washington and Moscow value the lines of communication and trust their interlocutors at least enough to share sensitive and even difficult information with them, experts say. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Mar. 2023 With this larger strategy in mind, Russia didn’t treat Ukraine as a legitimate interlocutor during multiple rounds of diplomacy in 2014 and 2015. Michael Kimmage, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1514, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of interlocutor was in 1514


Dictionary Entries Near interlocutor

Cite this Entry

“Interlocutor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

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