pin·​yin ˈpin-ˈyin How to pronounce pinyin (audio)
often capitalized
: a system for romanizing Chinese ideograms in which tones are indicated by diacritics and unaspirated consonants are transcribed as voiced compare wade-giles

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The committee then turned to a new system of romanization, known today as pinyin. Hugo Restall, WSJ, 1 Mar. 2022 To integrate that useful principle into his encoding scheme, Zhi decided to index characters by their components—the simpler characters within each ideograph—using the first letter of each component’s pinyin spelling. Jing Tsu, Wired, 23 Jan. 2022 And the campaign has already caused a stir online, with many questioning the rationale behind such replacements, since foreign visitors who don't speak any Chinese are unlikely to understand pinyin. Nectar Gan And Steve George, CNN, 5 Jan. 2022 The most common method used pinyin, the system of romanized spelling for Mandarin that Chinese students learn in school. Mara Hvistendahl, Wired, 18 May 2020

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

Word History


Chinese (Beijing) pīnyīn to spell phonetically, from pīn to arrange + yīn sound, pronunciation

First Known Use

1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pinyin was in 1963

Dictionary Entries Near pinyin

Cite this Entry

“Pinyin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


pin·​yin ˈpin-ˈyin How to pronounce pinyin (audio)
often capitalized
: a system for writing Chinese words by using Roman letters to represent the sounds
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.