tongue

noun
\ˈtəŋ \

Definition of tongue 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a fleshy movable muscular process of the floor of the mouths of most vertebrates that bears sensory end organs and small glands and functions especially in taking and swallowing food and in humans as a speech organ

b : a part of various invertebrate animals that is analogous to the tongue

2 : the flesh of a tongue (as of the ox or sheep) used as food

3a : language especially : a spoken language

b : manner or quality of utterance with respect to tone or sound, the sense of what is expressed, or the intention of the speaker she has a clever tongue a sharp tongue

c : ecstatic, typically unintelligible utterance occurring especially in a moment of religious excitation usually plural It would be like the miracle described in the Acts of the Apostles, demonstrated with healing, speaking in tongues and other signs and wonders.— Dan Wakefield… where they can sing and shriek and talk in tongues and testify and have a part.— Jane Kramer

d : the cry of or as if of a hound pursuing or in sight of game used especially in the phrase to give tongue

4 : the power of communication through speech

5 : a tapering flame tongues of fire

6 : something resembling an animal's tongue in being elongated and fastened at one end only: such as

a : the flap under the lacing or buckles of a shoe at the throat of the vamp

b : a movable pin in a buckle

c : a metal ball suspended inside a bell so as to strike against the sides as the bell is swung

d : the pole (see pole entry 1 sense 1b) of a vehicle (such as a wagon)

7a : the rib on one edge of a board that fits into a corresponding groove in an edge of another board to make a flush joint

b : feather sense 4

8 : a long narrow strip of land projecting into a body of water

tongue

verb
tongued; tonguing\ ˈtəŋ-​iŋ \

Definition of tongue (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to articulate (notes on a wind instrument) by successively interrupting the stream of wind with the action of the tongue

2 : to touch or lick with or as if with the tongue

3a : to cut a tongue on tongue a board

b : to join (parts, such as boards) by means of a tongue and groove tongue flooring together

4 archaic : scold

intransitive verb

1 : to articulate notes on a wind instrument by successively interrupting the stream of wind with the action of the tongue

2 : to project in a tongue

Tongue

geographical name
\ˈtəŋ \

Definition of Tongue (Entry 3 of 3)

river 246 miles (396 kilometers) long in northern Wyoming and southern Montana flowing north into the Yellowstone River

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Other Words from tongue

Noun

tonguelike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of tongue in a Sentence

Noun

The cow ran its tongue over its lips. The taste of the spice was still on her tongue. The little girl stuck her tongue out at me. He spoke in a foreign tongue. English is my native tongue. They speak the same tongue. His sharp tongue is going to get him into trouble someday.

Verb

learning how to tongue notes on the clarinet
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Also unwelcome would be the public tongue-lashings Mr Xi might face from an American president who is currently all sweetness and light in his personal expressions towards China’s leader. The Economist, "In its trade war with America, China dials down the hype," 12 July 2018 Dixon Vice Mayor Ted Hickman Hickman stood by his column after its publication and the following outrage, defending it in a phone interview with The Sacramento Bee last weekend as tongue-in-cheek humor. Michael Mcgough, sacbee, "Thousands petition against Dixon vice mayor who wrote ‘hateful,’ homophobic column," 5 July 2018 My dog perks up in the passenger seat, tongue lolling out of her mouth, head cocked. Tyler Malone, latimes.com, "The road taken by Robert Frost through New England," 29 June 2018 Kitch-iti-kipi Springs Talk about a tongue-twister! Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "25 Michigan roads, destinations you're probably saying wrong," 27 June 2018 When my grandma came back from the store with a dozen Krispy Kremes, my eyes bugged out of my skull and my tongue unfurled from my mouth like a carpet and steam blew out of my ears. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Are Homemade Doughnuts Worth the Effort and Fire Hazard?," 13 July 2018 Stewart solemnly recounted, tongue firmly in cheek. Jonathan Zimmerman, The New Republic, "Overturning Roe v. Wade Could Remake American Politics," 5 July 2018 Yes, its ungrammatical slogan does not exactly roll off the tongue. Mark Lisanti, Vanities, "The Trump Family Power Rankings: Be Best, but Not Too Best," 11 May 2018 Just look to the messaging that's so clearly on the tip of the tongues of MLS executives. Patrick Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "Analysis: FC Cincinnati's MLS expansion bid in a good place. Enjoy the club for what it is today.," 19 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The poison-tongued potty mouth crashed Stephen Colbert’s monologue Tuesday night and directed his brash brand of comedy at Colbert, late-night and, of course, President Trump. Libby Hill, latimes.com, "Deadpool crashes Colbert and unleashes some top-notch, lowbrow Trump humor," 16 May 2018 In the painted world, Beaverbrook is stricter and Maugham more acid-tongued than ever. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Meeting the People in the Paintings," 5 July 2018 Along with the Burmese Python, Andersen brought an armadillo, a chinchilla, a leopard tortoise and an Australian blue-tongued skink. Lisa Dejong, cleveland.com, "Outback Ray's Amazing Animal Show (photos)," 5 Mar. 2018 Broussard is just one of Burke’s finely nuanced characters; others include a silver-tongued, wealthy, ostensibly populist businessman who is snugly in bed with white nationalists. Adam Woog, The Seattle Times, "Crime fiction: James Lee Burke’s latest brings back deputy ‘Robicheaux’," 14 Jan. 2018 If your colleagues or clients grow irate over unanswered emails, tell them to submit a complaint to Slinky, the blue-tongued skink. Andrea Sachs, The Seattle Times, "Petting zoos at the office are the latest perk for stressed-out employees," 25 Dec. 2017 Sullivan elicits the suave personality of the silver-tongued attorney, but also imbues him with a tough guy persona. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "Sharp dances drive JPAS' arresting production of 'Chicago'," 9 Oct. 2017

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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 4

History and Etymology for tongue

Noun

Middle English tunge, from Old English; akin to Old High German zunga tongue, Latin lingua

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Statistics for tongue

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tongue

The first known use of tongue was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for tongue

tongue

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tongue

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the soft, movable part in the mouth that is used for tasting and eating food and in human beings for speaking

: the tongue of an animal (such as an ox or sheep) that is eaten as food

: a particular way or quality of speaking

tongue

verb

English Language Learners Definition of tongue (Entry 2 of 2)

: to produce separate notes when you are blowing air through a musical instrument (such as a trumpet) by using your tongue to briefly stop the flow of air

: to touch or lick something with your tongue

tongue

noun
\ˈtəŋ \

Kids Definition of tongue

1 : a fleshy movable part of the mouth used in tasting, in taking and swallowing food, and by human beings in speaking

2 : a particular way or quality of speaking Keep a polite tongue.

3 : language sense 1 Many tongues are spoken in a big city.

4 : something that is long and fastened at one end a tongue of land the tongue of a shoe

tongue

noun
\ˈtəŋ \

Medical Definition of tongue 

: a process of the floor of the mouth that is attached basally to the hyoid bone, that consists essentially of a mass of extrinsic muscle attaching its base to other parts, intrinsic muscle by which parts of the structure move in relation to each other, and an epithelial covering rich in sensory end organs and small glands, and that functions especially in taking and swallowing food and as a speech organ

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