lin·​go | \ ˈliŋ-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce lingo (audio) \
plural lingos or lingoes

Definition of lingo

: strange or incomprehensible language or speech: such as
a : a foreign language It can be hard to travel in a foreign country if you don't speak the lingo.
b : the special vocabulary of a particular field of interest The book has a lot of computer lingo.
c : language characteristic of an individual He has his own lingo … and at the top of each shift, he delivers a monologue that sets the table for his show.— Tim Sullivan

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of lingo in a Sentence

It can be hard to travel in a foreign country if you don't speak the lingo. The book has a lot of computer lingo that I don't understand.
Recent Examples on the Web But the companies have also eagerly adopted the lingo of the software and internet industries. Paris Martineau, Wired, "Everything and Nothing Is a Tech Company Now," 26 Dec. 2019 Sheeran’s voice-over offers tips on the best pistol to use for each job, as well as translations of Mafia lingo. The Economist, "Trusted associates “The Irishman” is an engrossing and gloriously funny gangster epic," 31 Oct. 2019 Grandpa Eck, teaching all sorts of original lingo to his grandkids. Chad Finn,, "‘I got lucky, man.’ Dennis Eckersley on surviving his tough times," 16 July 2019 Duolingo also has speaking exercises, which are a great way to quickly grasp some useful day-to-day lingo. Popular Science, "Experience local cultures on a deeper level with these five travel apps," 28 Dec. 2019 Each episode presents a new birth story, told in painstaking detail, from morning sickness to the medical lingo overheard in the delivery room. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "The 50 Best Podcasts to Listen to Right Now," 20 Dec. 2019 In travel lingo, good layovers are actually called stopovers—a chance to see a place that might otherwise simply be a flyover spot—enroute to your final destination. Cassie Shortsleeve, Popular Mechanics, "The Very Best Airlines for Holiday Travel," 18 Sep. 2019 Understand the lingo: There should be no mystique to how your manager is investing your money. Nancy Tengler, USA TODAY, "If you don't know the lingo, ask your financial adviser for clarity," 22 Nov. 2019 Give him the trequartista (more football hipster lingo, beautiful) role., "The Juventus Lineup Maurizio Sarri Must Select Regularly to Succeed This Season," 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lingo.' 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 lingo

1659, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lingo

probably from Lingua Franca, language, tongue, from Occitan, from Latin lingua — more at tongue

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lingo

Time Traveler for lingo

Time Traveler

The first known use of lingo was in 1659

See more words from the same year

Statistics for lingo

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lingo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lingo


How to pronounce lingo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lingo

: a language
: the special language used for a particular activity or by a particular group of people

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lingo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lingo

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lingo

Spanish Central: Translation of lingo

Nglish: Translation of lingo for Spanish Speakers

Comments on lingo

What made you want to look up lingo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!