lingua franca

noun
lin·​gua fran·​ca | \ ˈliŋ-gwə-ˈfraŋ-kə How to pronounce lingua franca (audio) \
plural lingua francas or linguae francae\ ˈliŋ-​gwē-​ˈfraŋ-​(ˌ)kē How to pronounce lingua franca (audio) \

Definition of lingua franca

1 often capitalized : a common language consisting of Italian mixed with French, Spanish, Greek, and Arabic that was formerly spoken in Mediterranean ports
2 : any of various languages used as common or commercial tongues among peoples of diverse speech English is used as a lingua franca among many airline pilots.
3 : something resembling a common language movies are the lingua franca of the twentieth century— Gore Vidal

Did you know?

In the Middle Ages, the Arabs of the eastern Mediterranean referred to all Europeans as Franks (the name of the tribe that once occupied the land we call France). Since there was plenty of Arab-European trade, the traders in the Mediterranean ports eventually developed a trading language combining Italian, Arabic, and other languages, which almost everyone could more or less understand, and it became known as the "Frankish language", or lingua franca. Some languages actually succeed in becoming lingua francas without changing much. So, when the Roman empire became vast and mighty, Latin became the important lingua franca; and at a meeting between Japanese and Vietnamese businesspeople today, English may well be the only language spoken.

Examples of lingua franca in a Sentence

English is used as a lingua franca among many airline pilots.
Recent Examples on the Web Quechua was the lingua franca of the Inca Empire, which stretched from what is now southern Colombia to central Chile. Franklin Briceño And Matt O'brien, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 May 2022 Quechua was the lingua franca of the Inca Empire, which stretched from what is now southern Colombia to central Chile. Matt O'brien, BostonGlobe.com, 11 May 2022 As with Cajun French, Irish, Navajo or Okinawan, the reasons for preservation have more to do with history and heritage than practicality, when dominant languages such as English and Mandarin are increasingly the lingua franca. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 23 Apr. 2022 As with Cajun French, Irish, Navajo or Okinawan, the reasons for preservation have more to do with history and heritage than practicality, when dominant languages such as English and Mandarin are increasingly the lingua franca. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 23 Apr. 2022 The continent has a complicated relationship with the various lingua franca in wide use, which has been a rich source of artistic, and political inspiration. Ciku Kimeria, Quartz, 22 Apr. 2022 Dialogue is rendered in the pseudo-profound pronouncements that have become the sententious lingua franca of the hero’s quest. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 21 Apr. 2022 As with Cajun French, Irish, Navajo or Okinawan, the reasons for preservation have more to do with history and heritage than practicality, when dominant languages such as English and Mandarin are increasingly the lingua franca. Anh Dostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2022 After several years of grappling with an assortment of racial controversies, the N.F.L. likely wanted credit for showcasing Black music — especially hip-hop, the lingua franca of American pop culture — this prominently. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lingua franca.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of lingua franca

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lingua franca

Italian, literally, Frankish language

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The first known use of lingua franca was in 1619

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Dictionary Entries Near lingua franca

linguaeform

lingua franca

lingua geral

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lingua franca.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lingua%20franca. Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lingua franca

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