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

Playwright Sarah Burgess drops in some finance lingo (LPs, Dodd-Frank, high beta) to demonstrate her bona-fides. Dominic P. Papatola, Twin Cities, "Review: Dark & Stormy’s ‘Dry Powder’ is a one-trick pony that gallops haltingly," 7 June 2019 Among attendees, Scott said, some judges considered the dialect to be more like slang or lingo. Cassie Owens,, "Philly judges discuss language access following study of court reporters," 5 June 2019 Having raised one of those means that baseball has wormed its way into some perpetual corner of my psyche, a lot like how baseball lingo has seeped throughout our American culture and language. Edie Ravenelle,, "How one pro pitcher’s parents helped him become a pro," 10 Apr. 2018 In the 18th century, early stock speculators developed their own special lingo, often relying on animalistic analogies. Ben Zimmer, WSJ, "How ‘Lame Duck’ Flew From the Stock Market to Politics," 30 Nov. 2018 Learn the lingo If intimidation is the major barrier standing between you and your trip to the fragrance aisle, here's a quick schooling in notes (e.g. top, middle, and bottom). Alexandra Engler, Marie Claire, "How to Choose Perfume: 3 Easy Tricks," 27 Aug. 2018 Carta analyzed 6,000 startups with a combined $45 billion in value to find out who actually sits on the capitalization table—or cap table, to use techie lingo—which is the ownership record of who has shares in a company. Jo Piazza, Marie Claire, "Hatched at Twitter," 12 Feb. 2019 In scientific lingo, penguins aren’t a keystone species—one on which other creatures depend for survival. Jo Craven Mcginty, WSJ, "Counting Penguins Isn’t Always Black and White," 2 Nov. 2018 Readers mystified by any of the author’s orphic lingo will find full explanations in the book’s extensive glossary. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: James Baldwin’s Tale of Childhood in Harlem," 23 Aug. 2018

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

Dictionary Entries near lingo



ling ko


lingoa wood



Statistics for lingo

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lingo

The first known use of lingo was in 1659

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lingo



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lingo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!