language

noun
lan·​guage | \ ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio) , -wij \

Essential Meaning of language

1 : the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other spoken and written language the origin of language
2 : any one of the systems of human language that are used and understood by a particular group of people the English language How many languages do you speak? See More Examplesa foreign language French is her first/native language. The book has been translated into several languages. He's learning English as a second language. After a few days in France, I realized that I didn't know the language [=I didn't know the French language] as well as I had thought. a new word that has recently entered the language a language instructor/teacher foreign language classes A language barrier existed between the two countries. [=people in the two countries did not understand each other because they spoke different languages]Hide
3 : words of a particular kind the formal language of the report the beauty of Shakespeare's language See More ExamplesShe expressed her ideas using simple and clear language. He is always careful in his use of language. bad/foul/obscene/strong/vulgar language You'd better watch your language [=be careful about the words you use] when you're talking to her.Hide

Full 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Adapted from Catherine Leger’s stage play of the same name, the French-language film, which is headed to Sundance’s Midnight sidebar, foreshadows the #MeToo movement while also commenting on the predictable backlash. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Jan. 2022 Workhuman’s artificial intelligence work around of language in an employee recognition system show that unintentional bias, which is human nature, can create problems that mushroom over time. Eric Mosley, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 The Spanish-language film, which is a Spanish, French, and Chilean co-production, is set to start shooting on March 21 on location in Pedro de Valdivia, in Chile’s Atacama Desert. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 17 Jan. 2022 The teaching of the Ukrainian language is forbidden, as is the celebration of Ukrainian holidays. New York Times, 16 Jan. 2022 The independent producers of the Malayalam-language film Rocky launched NFTs of the film’s posters in December to help finance the film. Biman Mukherji, Fortune, 15 Jan. 2022 The Malayalam-language film, which released on Dec. 24, is India’s first original superhero story. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 12 Jan. 2022 Released just last week, this 92-minute Spanish-language feature film is very much a product of the Covid pandemic. Andy Meek, BGR, 11 Jan. 2022 In her adaptation—the first English-language film based on a Ferrante work—Gyllenhaal aimed to invite the audience to inhabit Leda’s perspective and appreciate her insight. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 5 Jan. 2022

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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Time Traveler for language

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

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Dictionary Entries Near language

Langtry

language

language arts

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Statistics for language

Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Language.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/language. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for language

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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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about language

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