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.

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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

The language was not included in the versions of the budget proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or the Senate. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "House GOP backs off language on Gordie Howe bridge spending," 13 June 2019 Her English-language version spent three weeks last year filming at the Fontainebleau. Johnny Diaz,, "Eva Longoria’s new ‘Grand Hotel’ TV drama stars Fontainebleau Miami Beach and a South Florida cast," 13 June 2019 His crass ideological infiltration of young minds in the guise of teaching language, history and math started in elementary school and continued through high school. WSJ, "Mathematics of Perón’s Social Justice Party," 10 June 2019 Facebook, English-language Wikipedia, the New York Times, Quartz, and dozens of other potentially controversial news sites have been inaccessible for some time. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "The Guardian and Washington Post are the latest casualties of China’s Great Firewall," 9 June 2019 So now, for me, however the works of Shakespeare were created, the creator had not only extensive book learning, languages, vocabulary, and life experience, but also the greatest understanding of women any playwright has ever displayed. Mark Rylance, The Atlantic, "Keep Questioning Shakespeare’s Identity," 8 June 2019 Francis’s native language, Spanish, is another kind of deformed Latin. The Economist, "Latin is dead—yet it also lives on," 8 June 2019 She got started with coding her freshman year of high school with Scratch, a visual, simplified coding language, which merged her two passions — math and design. Anabel Pasarow,, "Meet 3 Teen Girls Who Made Their Own Apps — While Still In High School," 7 June 2019 The language of good and evil, and the invocation of God, echoes earlier Trump speeches as well as those of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Trump’s Great D-Day Speech," 6 June 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.

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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

16 Jun 2019

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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 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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Comments on language

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behavior toward others

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