para·​lan·​guage | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce paralanguage (audio) , ˈpa-rə- \

Definition of paralanguage

: optional vocal effects (such as tone of voice) that accompany or modify the phonemes of an utterance and that may communicate meaning

Examples of paralanguage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Such sounds are technically known as paralanguage (or vocalics), a field pioneered back in the 1950s by George L. Trager, a linguist who worked in the State Department's Foreign Service Institute. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The “burp-talking” in Rick and Morty isn’t as meaningless as you might think," 6 Dec. 2019

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

First Known Use of paralanguage

1958, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paralanguage

Time Traveler for paralanguage

Time Traveler

The first known use of paralanguage was in 1958

See more words from the same year

Statistics for paralanguage

Cite this Entry

“Paralanguage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on paralanguage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paralanguage

Comments on paralanguage

What made you want to look up paralanguage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!