pidgin

noun pid·gin \ ˈpi-jən \

Definition of pidgin

: a simplified speech used for communication between people with different languages

pidginization

play \ˌpi-jə-nə-ˈzā-shən\ noun

pidginize

play \ˈpi-jə-ˌnīz\ transitive verb

pidgin was our Word of the Day on 07/26/2016. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of pidgin from the Web

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

The History of pidgin

The history of pidgin begins in the early 19th century in the South China city of Guangzhou. Chinese merchants interacting with English speakers on the docks in this port adopted and modified the word business in a way that, by century's end, had become pidgin. The word itself then became the descriptor of the unique communication used by people who speak different languages. Pidgins generally consist of small vocabularies (Chinese Pidgin English has only 700 words), but some have grown to become a group's native language. Examples include Sea Island Creole (spoken in South Carolina's Sea Islands), Haitian Creole, and Louisiana Creole. The word pidgin also gave us one particular meaning of pigeon—the one defined as "an object of special concern" or "accepted business or interest," as in "Tennis is not my pigeon."

Origin and Etymology of pidgin

pidgin English


PIDGIN Defined for English Language Learners

pidgin

noun

Definition of pidgin for English Language Learners

  • : a language that is formed from a mixture of several languages when speakers of different languages need to talk to each other


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