language

noun

lan·​guage ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio)
-wij
1
a
: 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 gestureWilliam 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
2
a
: 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 languageRing 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Additionally, there are dozens of classes, workshops, and activities that residents can sign up for year-round, spanning foreign language learning, dancing, singing, yoga, and jewelry making. Dobrina Zhekova, Travel + Leisure, 15 July 2024 Trump has released few hard numbers and no real policy language or legislative blueprints. Josh Boak, Fortune, 15 July 2024 The registry is led by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco (CCC), which will hold in-person and virtual workshops with language support to help artists navigate the process. Shawna Chen, Axios, 15 July 2024 The studio partnered with Apple TV+ and Skydance Media on the English language series The Big Door Prize, which ran for two seasons in 2023 and 2024. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for language 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'language.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Anglo-French langage, from lange, langue tongue, language, from Latin lingua — more at tongue

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near language

Cite this Entry

“Language.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/language. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

language

noun
lan·​guage ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio)
1
a
: the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a large group of people
b
: a means of communicating ideas
sign language
2
: the means by which animals communicate or are thought to communicate with each other
language of the bees
3
: a system of signs and symbols and rules for using them that is used to carry information
BASIC is a computer language
4
: the way in which words are used
strong language
5
: the words and expressions of a particular group or field
the language of medicine
6
: the study of language
Etymology

Middle English language "language," from early French language (same meaning), from langue "language, tongue," from Latin lingua "tongue, language"

Word Origin
The tongue plays an important part in human speech. Different sounds are made by different positions of the tongue. The tongue and speech are so closely connected that in many languages the word that means "tongue" also means "language." This is true in English, as when we say "she spoke a foreign tongue." It was also true in Latin, where the word lingua meant both "tongue" and "language." From the Latin lingua came the early French langue, meaning "tongue, language," which gave rise to the early French word language. The English word language comes directly from this early French word.

More from Merriam-Webster on language

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