pa·​tois | \ ˈpa-ˌtwä How to pronounce patois (audio) , ˈpä- How to pronounce patois (audio) \
plural patois\ ˈpa-​ˌtwäz How to pronounce patois (audio) , ˈpä-​ \

Definition of patois

1a : a dialect other than the standard or literary dialect
b : uneducated or provincial speech
2 : the characteristic special language of an occupational or social group : jargon

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Examples of patois in a Sentence

the medical patois that the hospital staffers used among themselves was incomprehensible to me
Recent Examples on the Web Then the man said something else, in a heavy patois. Bryan Washington, The New Yorker, "Visitor," 13 Jan. 2020 They weren’t meant for public consumption, and the people sitting in the audience all spoke the same fashion patois. National Geographic, "The idea of beauty is always shifting. Today, it’s more inclusive than ever.," 7 Jan. 2020 The premise is that Emily Dickinson speaks in modern teen-age patois, scored to Billie Eilish. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "I Love Top Ten Lists," 4 Dec. 2019 James, who won a Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings, his novel featuring Jamaican patois, writes in dense, inventive language—challenging at first, then wholly absorbing. Lucy Feldman, Time, "The 10 Best Fiction Books of 2019," 22 Nov. 2019 The Chinese snatches of dialogue kept the western patois from becoming overwhelming. Ani Bundel, Ars Technica, "Space cowboy successes, and failures, ahead of The Mandalorian’s Disney+ launch," 11 Nov. 2019 Every neighborhood has its own patois, nominally legible to outsiders but impenetrable to all but residents in its slang. Caille Millner,, "Hiking exotic climes, fatiguing climbs on the other side of the city," 4 Oct. 2019 Peppered with Jamaican patois, the tome defies convention with themes of reluctant motherhood, homosexuality and the realities of immigration. Bridgette Bartlett Royall, Essence, "Great Summer Beach Reads: 5 Sizzling Reads To Crack Open Now," 23 July 2019 The album launched a long career in which the Nite Tripper and Mr. Rebennack would converge, most obviously in the man’s New Orleans-centric patois that, when transcribed, may confound an English educator but would delight a listener., "Dr. John, a true New Orleans music legend, dies at age 77," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patois.' 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 patois

1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for patois


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Time Traveler for patois

Time Traveler

The first known use of patois was in 1643

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Statistics for patois

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Patois.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for patois


How to pronounce patois (audio) How to pronounce patois (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of patois

: a form of a language that is spoken only in a particular area and that is different from the main form of the same language

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More from Merriam-Webster on patois

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for patois

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with patois Encyclopedia article about patois

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