mother tongue


Definition of mother tongue

1 : one's native language
2 : a language from which another language derives

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Synonyms for mother tongue


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Examples of mother tongue in a Sentence

although the anthropologist could speak the local language fairly well, she was always glad to find someone who shared her mother tongue
Recent Examples on the Web The state returned their properties confiscated after the 1960s, the construction of churches in Turkey became relatively easier and the right to publish and broadcast in the mother tongue was expanded to include all minorities. Ramazan Kılınç, The Conversation, "Christians have lived in Turkey for two millennia – but their future is uncertain," 21 Nov. 2019 The sisters shared a tent and were inseparable, constantly joking in their mother tongue. Julian Brave Noisecat, The New Yorker, "Can Film Save Indigenous Languages?," 14 Nov. 2019 Along with Greek, other languages could have been heard on Jerash’s streets, including the indigenous Aramaic language, which would later be the mother tongue of Jesus of Nazareth. Eva Tobalina, National Geographic, "Rome brought pomp and prosperity to this ancient outpost in Jordan," 18 Sep. 2019 Despite the rise of translation software, people prefer to be served by fellow humans who can speak their mother tongue. The Economist, "In Britain, command of a foreign language is still à la mode," 13 Sep. 2019 Each participant read aloud 15 identical passages that had been translated into their mother tongue. Catherine Matacic, Science | AAAS, "Human speech may have a universal transmission rate: 39 bits per second," 4 Sep. 2019 Like many children of Chinese immigrants, Wang is able to speak Sichuanese, her parents' mother tongue, but lacks literacy in Chinese characters. Dallas News, "In Plano artist Jenney Chang's brush paintings, East and West come together," 19 Aug. 2019 And as added bonus, native English speakers will be able to speak in their mother tongue. Teen Vogue, "10 Best Places To Study Abroad: Our Favorite Study-Abroad Cities," 25 Mar. 2019 Under the new legislation, students would only be able to learn in their mother tongue in subjects related to culture and history. Tyler Dikun, Fox News, "Latvian legislation seeks to diminish ethnic Russians' cultural impact," 8 Mar. 2018

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

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First Known Use of mother tongue

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for mother tongue

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The first known use of mother tongue was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mother tongue.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for mother tongue

mother tongue


English Language Learners Definition of mother tongue

: the language that a person learns to speak first

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More from Merriam-Webster on mother tongue

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mother tongue

Spanish Central: Translation of mother tongue

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