in·​ter·​loc·​u·​tor | \ ˌin-tər-ˈlä-kyə-tər How to pronounce interlocutor (audio) \

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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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 With the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in the east, speaks fluent Russian, and had developed a good working relationship with Mr. Putin, Europe lost an invaluable interlocutor with Moscow. New York Times, 10 Jan. 2022 Voss tells you to mirror your interlocutor’s body language, and to parrot her last few words as a question. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2021 Critic, translator, artist as interlocutor; the unorthodox approach has been fruitful, and freeing, for Rudick as well. Lucy Jakub, The New York Review of Books, 11 Dec. 2021 Our openness ends exactly where our interlocutor has a completely different opinion. Edyta Kwiatkowska, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 Instead, more diplomatic activity would take place in Qatar, an important interlocutor between the West and the Taliban. Reuters, CNN, 24 Oct. 2021 The plot of this short story is that all of a sudden nothing matters except a text chat with a distracted interlocutor who may or may not exist. Eugene Lim, The New Yorker, 19 Aug. 2021 Observe if your thoughts follow the interlocutor’s words. Edyta Kwiatkowska, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 Cellist Charlotte Moorman, the interlocutor with whom he is most closely identified, is central here, and SFMoMA has collected some of the most iconic objects related to their partnership. Brian P. Kelly, WSJ, 17 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for interlocutor

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The first known use of interlocutor was in 1514

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Interlocutor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of interlocutor

: a person who is having a conversation with you

More from Merriam-Webster on interlocutor

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


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