pidgin

play
noun pid·gin \ˈpi-jən\

Definition of pidgin

  1. :  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

Did You Know?

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


First Known Use: 1876


PIDGIN Defined for English Language Learners

pidgin

play
noun pid·gin \ˈpi-jən\

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


Learn More about pidgin


Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

skillful, artistic, or intricate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog-cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ