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.

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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

Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once said that learning another language is like becoming another person. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' defense, now speaking the same language, 'can turn a lot of heads’," 5 Sep. 2019 Watch the trailer — which is loaded with adult language — on YouTube. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, "Martin Lawrence and his zingers steal the ‘Bad Boys for Life’ trailer," 4 Sep. 2019 The National Players meld classic language with contemporary staging to bring this tale to life. Judy Morley, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Coming Attractions: Members show opens Thursday at Carroll Arts Center," 4 Sep. 2019 Some languages were clearly faster than others: no surprise there. Catherine Matacic, Science | AAAS, "Human speech may have a universal transmission rate: 39 bits per second," 4 Sep. 2019 The human reviewers helped perfect the natural language processing abilities of the assistant. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How A.I. Is Poised to Transform Negotiations. Eye on A.I.," 3 Sep. 2019 Grand plans to learn languages and travel the world can quickly fizzle out. The Economist, "People are working longer for reasons of choice and necessity," 2 Sep. 2019 The agreement did not include language allowing Penn State to drop the game in such a circumstance. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Penn State will owe Idaho $1.45 million for game even though Vandals are FCS. Here's why," 31 Aug. 2019 Democrats have compared Abbott's language to the divisive words used by President Donald Trump, whose critics say has fostered the kind of anti-immigrant hatred that the El Paso gunman posted online. CBS News, "Texas Governor Greg Abbott says "mistakes were made" in immigration rhetoric," 30 Aug. 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

8 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for language

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

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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

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Comments on language

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