language

noun
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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 Like a Girl provides encouraging, step-by-step tips and tricks for hands-on tinkering with Arduino’s Raspberry Pi platform, learning the Python computer language, and more. Michelle Z. Donahue, Smithsonian, "The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2019," 26 Nov. 2019 The crudeness of the language and the unhinged violence—at one point Nadine shoots a three-year-old—shocked the literary establishment, which, Despentes has said, wasn’t used to reading this kind of thing from a woman. Lauren Elkin, Harper's magazine, "Trash, Rock, Destroy," 25 Nov. 2019 Its language and experience also changes over time. Fay Bound Alberti, Quartz, "The problem with medicalizing loneliness," 25 Nov. 2019 What Fred aimed to do was give every child language for their emotions, and ways to process their emotions. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Joanne Rogers, Marielle Heller on the cameos and catharsis of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," 22 Nov. 2019 Contains action, violence, strong language and some suggestive material. Mark Lieberman, Anchorage Daily News, "Kristen Stewart is a lively shot in the arm for tired ‘Charlie’s Angels’ reboot," 13 Nov. 2019 Her work has been translated into 19 languages and covered around the world. Your Fat Friend, SELF, "When I Speak Out Against Fat Shaming, I'm Told to ‘Just Lose Weight’," 12 Nov. 2019 At the end of the story (spoiler alert!), the wife decides to stay for an indefinite period of time, to reimmerse herself in Chinese language and culture. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, "Weike Wang on Culture Clashes and Claiming Your Identity," 11 Nov. 2019 Formerly the British colony called Rhodesia, Zimbabwe counts English among its more than a dozen official languages and relies on international tourism as a major part of its economy, making the dollar a natural fit. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Why the $100 Bill Is More Popular Than Ever," 5 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about language

Time Traveler for language

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for language

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Language.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/language. Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for language

language

noun
How to pronounce language (audio)

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

language

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!