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 In Kenya, the language is mandatory for the first 12 years of formal schooling. Edna Namara, Quartz, 19 May 2022 Critics in the cybersecurity industry say the language is ambiguous and could be used to prosecute routine activity by people including white-hat hackers, tech researchers or users who inadvertently violate online platforms’ terms of service. David Uberti, WSJ, 19 May 2022 Throughout her work, the language is direct and unadorned while also playful and full of unexpected turns. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2022 When an article is factually correct, but the language is not as clear or detailed as necessary, the story may be updated without an editor's note. People Staff,, 12 May 2022 The term limit language is the same in both the original ballot proposal and the resolution approved by lawmakers. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 10 May 2022 Urrea’s language is rhythmic and lively, and his details make a tale of impending death, gang violence, and family trauma charming and hilarious. Heather Hansman, The Atlantic, 10 May 2022 But the original Hyde language, like it or not, was a kind of compromise. Charlie Dent, CNN, 9 May 2022 Body language is also very important when offering opportunities for open conversations. Reena Khullar Sharma, Forbes, 2 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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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Language.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 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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