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

In fact, many other people use captions, including those who speak English as a second language and those who have sensory processing disorders. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "I Rely On Closed Captions to Enjoy a Show And I Don't Appreciate Netflix's Way of Censoring Them," 10 July 2018 Not only did most of them speak a common language, but 14 of the 22 starters on Tuesday night also played in the English Premier League, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur represented in both blue and red jerseys. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "France Advances to the World Cup Final," 10 July 2018 The fact that humor is a language of protest appears to mitigate their anxiety and permits them to function. Brendan Leonard, Outside Online, "Learning to Be Funny," 9 July 2018 According to a Billboard story dated May 29, of the 4,799 singles that have reached the Hot 100’s top 10, only 17 have been performed primarily or fully in a language other than English. Leila Cobo, Billboard, "The Times Have Changed: What 'I Like It' Hitting No. 1 Means to Latin Music," 3 July 2018 The suspect was wearing dark-colored clothing that resembled a uniform and was able to speak in a Russian-sounding language, officials said. City News Service,, "Sketch released of suspect wanted in Escondido burglary," 28 June 2018 As of Tuesday, all Google Home products—Home, Mini, and Max—have learned a new language: Spanish. Carson Kessler, Fortune, "Google Home Now Speaks Spanish," 27 June 2018 But if a child was raised in the jungle with no human to talk to, that child would have difficulty learning a language years down the road. Erika Andersen, Good Housekeeping, "The Only Reason My Husband Survived Abuse and Poverty As a Child: His Faith in God," 26 June 2018 Advance participation by engineers helped keep the language practical and improves the odds their companies will sign, people familiar with the process said. Joseph Menn, The Christian Science Monitor, "Silicon Valley employees increasingly push companies on ethics," 13 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

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for language

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

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More Definitions for language



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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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