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 Kashe also knows more than 50 signs in sign language — an impressive feat. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, 26 May 2021 The service enables Deaf and hard-of-hearing people to communicate with AppleCare and Apple Retail staff in sign language. Steven Aquino, Forbes, 21 May 2021 Penance’s super-drill works well enough that Amalia eventually falls down a half-dug hole in a manner that calls to mind the action-adventure film Congo, starring Laura Linney opposite a gorilla that knows sign language. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 17 May 2021 Learning sign language is not an academic standard, Cook said. Hannah Reed, chicagotribune.com, 10 May 2021 During her acceptance speech, Fletcher used sign language to thank her parents, both of whom were deaf and worked with the hard-of-hearing. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, 21 Apr. 2021 Only viewers who knew sign language could follow the conversation. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2021 He was obsessed with stamping out sign language, insisting that teaching the deaf to speak was the only way to integrate them into the hearing world, and that this integration was the only thing that mattered. BostonGlobe.com, 8 Apr. 2021 Mejia is the Spanish speaker; Salcido reaches out in English and, occasionally, sign language. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of sign language

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About sign language

Time Traveler for sign language

Time Traveler

The first known use of sign language was in 1824

See more words from the same year

Statistics for sign language

Last Updated

13 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sign language.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sign%20language. Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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