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

Cuarón was born in 1961 in Mexico City, and made his first movie in 1991—Spanish-language feature Solo con Tu Pareja. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Is Roma Director Alfonso Cuarón? You've Definitely Seen His Incredible Movies," 23 Feb. 2019 After fixing the language mixup, Saru falls incredibly ill. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Is All About Friendship and Death This Week," 8 Feb. 2019 Rodriguez credits Carmen with inspiring her to travel and learn new cultures, religions, and languages. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Gina Rodriguez Says Feminism Is Shaping How Young Boys Think Too," 18 Jan. 2019 In March, the former 2016 presidential candidate removed anti-discrimination language from HUD’s mission statement. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "HUD won one court battle, lost another under Ben Carson in 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 The big factor: Hispanics, who account for 57 percent of the voters and who came to know Salazar relatively well over her three decades broadcasting on Spanish language networks Telemundo, Univision, Mega-TV and CNN Español. Fox News, "Video from 2011 creates headaches for Sinema," 12 Oct. 2018 For him, the body is the only language that remains after everything falls away. Sadia Hassan, Longreads, "Silence is a Lonely Country: A Prayer in Twelve Parts," 13 July 2018 Stuckey, who is editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech, said the study was consistent with other, similar research, but that style of speech is only one component of political language. Seth Borenstein, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s speech: Less analytical, more sure than predecessors," 13 Feb. 2019 Scientists despair of the way language like this excites the public—only to dampen enthusiasm when, after a few years, the breakthrough hasn’t... Carol Tavris, WSJ, "‘The Inflamed Mind’ Review: Looking in the Wrong Place," 1 Feb. 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

Statistics for language

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for language

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for language

language

noun

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

of or relating to a parable or parabola

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!