lan·​guage | \ˈlaŋ-gwij, -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

(6) : machine language sense 1

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.

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Our ancestors were forced into boarding schools and to abide by strict laws on land, language, and water rights. Parvannah Lee, Teen Vogue, "I'm From the Navajo Nation and I Want to Help My Community Get Healthy Food," 22 Nov. 2018 Otherwise, the trailer (embedded below) includes a severe lack of exactly how Deadpool 2's language and violence will be softened to fit into a PG-13 framework. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "That PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 you’ve been asking for is coming—with Fred Savage," 19 Nov. 2018 Hundred-page manifestos outlining the colors, language and attitude that licensees and designers should use for each princess are treated as gospel. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, "Beauty and the Backlash: Disney’s Modern Princess Problem," 17 Nov. 2018 And around the country, white women candidates used racist language and ideas in their campaigns, just as men did. Anna North, Vox, "Why racist politics appeals to white women, explained by American history," 14 Nov. 2018 The name of the eight-day Jewish holiday originates in the language of Hebrew, where it's spelled as חנוכה. Amina Lake Abdelrahman, Good Housekeeping, "Here's How You Actually Spell Hanukkah," 18 Oct. 2018 The blunt language and harsh dismissal in Trump’s interview stunned 10 Downing Street. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," 13 July 2018 My own mother named me after the silence that grows between one language and the next. Sadia Hassan, Longreads, "Silence is a Lonely Country: A Prayer in Twelve Parts," 13 July 2018 It was translated into 22 languages and the Royal Air Force dropped summaries on Allied troops and behind enemy lines. The Economist, "The welfare state needs updating," 12 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for language

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for language

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

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English Language Learners Definition of language

: the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other

: any one of the systems of human language that are used and understood by a particular group of people

: words of a particular kind


lan·​guage | \ˈlaŋ-gwij \

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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Comments on language

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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