lan·​guage | \ ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio) , -wij \

Definition of language

1a : the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community studied the French language
b(1) : audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs
(2) : a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings the language of mathematics
(3) : the suggestion by objects, actions, or conditions of associated ideas or feelings language in their very gesture— William Shakespeare
(4) : the means by which animals communicate the language of birds
(5) : a formal system of signs and symbols (such as FORTRAN or a calculus in logic) including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions
2a : form or manner of verbal expression specifically : style the beauty of Shakespeare's language
b : the vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or a department of knowledge the language of diplomacy medical language
c : profanity shouldn't of blamed the fellers if they'd cut loose with some language— Ring Lardner
3 : the study of language especially as a school subject earned a grade of B in language
4 : specific words especially in a law or regulation The police were diligent in enforcing the language of the law.

Examples of language in a Sentence

How many languages do you speak? French is her first language. The book has been translated into several languages. He's learning English as a second language. a new word that has recently entered the language the formal language of the report the beauty of Shakespeare's language She expressed her ideas using simple and clear language. He is always careful in his use of language. See More
Recent Examples on the Web No borders, fewer language barriers, more opportunities. Stephan Rabimov, Forbes, 7 May 2022 Yes, this is the latest language evolution that reflects most publications’ move away from phrases associated with Gypsy, which is now considered an offensive ethnic label. WSJ, 6 May 2022 That means, among other things, English composition, social sciences and intermediate foreign language proficiency for arts and sciences. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 The essays were then judged by experienced Chinese language teachers. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 5 May 2022 Olsen said the study's long-term scope has enabled researchers to see how gender identity language has evolved. Jo Yurcaba, NBC News, 4 May 2022 But many people believed City Hall still lagged behind by not extending language access to public meetings, signage, and dockets. Tim Logan,, 4 May 2022 The Finnish language series will launch globally on Netflix in 2023 and will later also be available on Yle. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 3 May 2022 Spanish language broadcasters Univision (1.5 million) and Telemundo (1 million) rank ahead of The CW (665,000). Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'language.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of language

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for language

Middle English, from Anglo-French langage, from lange, langue tongue, language, from Latin lingua — more at tongue

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The first known use of language was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near language



language arts

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Statistics for language

Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Language.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for language


lan·​guage | \ ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio) \

Kids Definition of language

1 : the words and expressions used and understood by a large group of people the English language
2 : spoken or written words of a particular kind She used simple and clear language.
3 : a means of expressing ideas or feelings sign language
4 : a formal system of signs and symbols that is used to carry information a computer language
5 : the special words used by a certain group or in a certain field the language of science
6 : the study of languages

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