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

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 Adul, 14, one of the Wild Boars’ best players, speaks five languages. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "‘Time is running out’: Inside the treacherous rescue of boys trapped in a Thai cave," 13 July 2018 The robot can also communicate with people who speak all languages through its LED display screen and non-verbal interactions, Mashable reported. Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune, "This Travel Robot Assistant Will Carry Your Bags and Show You to Your Gate," 12 July 2018 At the most basic level, the act of hearing is transforming sound into electrochemical signals, the language of neurons, that the brain can then interpret. Justin Chen, STAT, "Pulses of light restored hearing in gerbils. Could that lead to higher-tech cochlear implants?," 11 July 2018 For an unknown plot of land somewhere in the West, for an unfamiliar tenement in New York City, for a new language, a new church, and new families in America. Lyman Stone, Vox, "The myth of the job-hopping, rootless millennial is just that — a myth," 11 July 2018 Millions of people have used the free app Duolingo to gain skills in a new language; Fandango is the ultimate movie showtimes guide. David Pogue, Scientific American, "Megamergers I’d Like to See," 13 July 2018 In the case of Sponsored events, sponsors will be clearly identified to all on-site participants and in marketing materials tied to the relevant conference or event in language that indicates their role as underwriters. Bloomberg, "Terms of Service," 8 July 2018 Still, those appearances are paired with legal filings loaded with rancorous language. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "2013 Louisville players take diplomatic stance on school vs. Rick Pitino," 3 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

6 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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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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