sign language

noun

Definition of sign language

1 : any of various formal languages employing a system of hand gestures and their placement relative to the upper body, facial expressions, body postures, and finger spelling especially for communication by and with deaf people But true sign languages are in fact complete in themselves: their syntax, grammar, and semantics are complete, but they have a different character from that of any spoken or written language.— Oliver Sacks Sign language relies mainly on the signer's hand, but facial expressions and body movements are also important.— Mark Prigg
2 : an unsystematic method of communicating chiefly by manual gestures (as by people speaking different languages) I decided to cadge a lift from a Lebanese who only spoke Arabic, so we had to converse in sign language.— Robert Fox

Examples of sign language in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

He was loaned in 1991 to be a companion for Koko, the gorilla famed for learning sign language. Dan Sewell, BostonGlobe.com, "Gorilla back in Cincinnati Zoo after long West Coast stay," 14 June 2019 For example, sign language became involved in women’s events. John-john Williams Iv, baltimoresun.com, "How women are shaping Baltimore's 2019 Pride Festival," 14 June 2019 That shows that Amazon is at least beginning to consider how to build accessibility into its voice assistant, and who know, understanding sign language could be the next step. James Vincent, The Verge, "This Amazon Echo mod lets Alexa understand sign language," 24 July 2018 Phillip's teachers were showing the boy, who still didn't speak, how to communicate using sign language, Staley said. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Oakland County woman describes torture, abuse from husband — and the day she killed him," 14 June 2019 Morales is also helping the theater put together a video message in sign language for the lobby that will explain things such as where the exits and the bathrooms are located. Pat Eaton-robb, courant.com, "UConn providing sign language interpreters for musicals," 12 June 2019 His idea to use sign language was not a completely new idea. National Geographic, "How monks helped invent sign language," 28 May 2019 Ndume was born in Cincinnati and was loaned to the Gorilla Foundation in 1991 to be a companion to Koko, the famous gorilla who communicated using a form of sign language. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Gorilla Ndume's trip home delayed due to worries over risks, courts asked to decide," 5 June 2019 Malone said Indy Pride has also worked to make the festival more accessible for people with disabilities by consulting with experts, and sign language interpreters will be available. Nyssa Kruse, Indianapolis Star, "Inclusion is fundamental to Indy Pride. It's making strides — and falling short, some say.," 9 June 2018

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

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near sign language

sign in

sign into law

signist

sign language

signless

signman

sign manual

Statistics for sign language

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sign language

The first known use of sign language was in 1824

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More Definitions for sign language

sign language

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sign language

: a system of hand movements used for communication especially by people who are deaf

sign language

noun

Kids Definition of sign language

: a system of hand movements used for communication (as by people who are deaf)

sign language

noun

Medical Definition of sign language

: any of various formal languages employing a system of hand gestures and their placement relative to the upper body, facial expressions, body postures, and finger spelling especially for communication by and with deaf people

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More from Merriam-Webster on sign language

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sign language

Spanish Central: Translation of sign language

Nglish: Translation of sign language for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sign language

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