noun, plural in form but singular in construction
lin·​guis·​tics | \ liŋ-ˈgwi-stiks How to pronounce linguistics (audio) \

Definition of linguistics

: the study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language

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Any analysis of language, including 8th-grade grammar, can be called linguistics. As recently as 200 years ago, ordinary grammar was about the only kind of linguistics there was. Today a linguist may be a person who learns foreign languages, but the term usually refers to people who devote themselves to analyzing the structure of language. Many linguists concentrate on the history of a language; others study the way children learn to speak; others analyze the sounds of a language—and still others just study English grammar, a subject so big that you could easily spend your entire life on it.

Examples of linguistics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Simons, a lecturer in linguistics at San Diego State University, has incorporated composting in her lifestyle for some time. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 July 2022 There’s some new twist in technology or in communication style or in linguistics or in politics. Vicki Salemi, Forbes, 18 May 2022 About a quarter of them live in the metropolitan area, according to Kriszta Eszter Szendroi, a professor in linguistics at University College London. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2022 The pair hadn’t set out to alter the linguistics of A.S.L., but, as DeafBlind people in Seattle took Protactile’s methods home, words began to change in their hands. Andrew Leland, The New Yorker, 12 May 2022 Dennig, a Hong Kong native with a PhD in educational linguistics, began teaching Cantonese at Stanford in 1997. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 23 Apr. 2022 Dennig, a Hong Kong native with a PhD in educational linguistics, began teaching Cantonese at Stanford in 1997. Anh Dostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2022 The software organizes the syntax tree into parts of speech by using mathematical linguistics to differentiate between verbs, nouns, prepositions, and adjectives. Paul Smith-goodson, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 From spoon licks to cunning library linguistics, Daphne and Simon made viewers burn for them. Ew Staff,, 14 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of linguistics

1829, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for linguistics

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The first known use of linguistics was in 1829

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Dictionary Entries Near linguistics

linguistic island



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Statistics for linguistics

Last Updated

26 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Linguistics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for linguistics


lin·​guis·​tics | \ liŋ-ˈgwis-tiks How to pronounce linguistics (audio) \

Kids Definition of linguistics

: the study of human speech including the nature, structure, and development of language or of a language or group of languages

More from Merriam-Webster on linguistics

Nglish: Translation of linguistics for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of linguistics for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about linguistics


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