mother tongue


Definition of mother tongue

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

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 According to Statistics Canada, the share of the Canadian population whose mother tongue is French declined from nearly 30 percent in 1941 to about 21 percent in 2016. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 Simply put, the more time one spends exposing themselves to the foreign language as it is spoken and written in natural environments, the more successful one will be in mastering a new mother tongue. Frederick Daso, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 There’s one final touch: stapled onto each bag is a note written in the mother tongue of the person who will receive it. Crystal Hana Kim, Glamour, 2 Nov. 2021 After all, as there is no such thing as a choice of mother tongue, there is no such thing as a choice of motherland, or, for that matter, of a mother. Sigrid Nunez, The New York Review of Books, 27 May 2021 For some scientists, this language may even be more straightforward than writing prose in English, which may not be their mother tongue. Iulia Georgescu, Wired, 28 Sep. 2021 His mother tongue, Menik, is one of Senegal’s 25 recognized native languages but one that had only about 3,000 speakers left at last count. Washington Post, 7 May 2021 But almost 30 years after Ukraine’s independence, Ukrainian has become dominant: Two-thirds of the population say it’s their mother tongue. Mansur Mirovalev, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Aug. 2021 Or rather, knew their home country, understood their history, and could speak to them in their mother tongue. Romina Ruiz-goiriena, USA TODAY, 22 July 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near mother tongue

Mother Superior

mother tongue

mother tree

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Statistics for mother tongue

Last Updated

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mother tongue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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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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