: language viewed abstractly as a system of forms and conventions used for communication in a community
also : competence sense 1c compare parole

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In lectures delivered at the University of Geneva from 1907 to 1913, Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure set forth his groundbreaking distinction between "langue" - the systematic, structured language existing at a given time within a given society - and "parole," the individual use of that language by a person. In French, "langue" literally means "language." It was adopted into Middle English with that same general meaning but fell into disuse. "Parole" is also a French word; it means "speech" and is related to Late Latin parabola, the base of our English word parable.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Key Takeaways ChatGPT, a large langue model developed by OpenAI, went viral after its release in November 2022. Stephanie Brown, Verywell Health, 11 Feb. 2023 The mayor added another reason to revisit the sign langue pertained to early voting. John Benson, cleveland, 23 Feb. 2022 There are versions in Ethiopic, Old Norse, and the langue d’oc. Hari Kunzru, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022 Kate Cox, Tech Policy Reporter: Oui, il faut l'utiliser quand écrire dans une langue utilisant des signes diacritiques. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 12 Apr. 2020 In tarnished silver light the royal ravens spoke la langue verte, the green tongue of living speech. L. S. Asekoff, Harper's magazine, 19 Aug. 2019 In the grand colonial period, tableware, menus, etiquette and equipment were dominated by the langue françoise from Madagascar to Moscow. Jim Kempton, Orange County Register, 2 Aug. 2019 The recommendation was put forth by the Commission d’enrichissement de la langue française, which works in conjunction with the Academie Française to preserve the French language. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, 16 Jan. 2018 See More

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

Word History


French, literally, language

First Known Use

1924, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of langue was in 1924


Dictionary Entries Near langue

Cite this Entry

“Langue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on langue

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