tongue

noun
\ ˈtəŋ How to pronounce tongue (audio) \

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

tongue

verb
tongued; tonguing\ ˈtəŋ-​iŋ How to pronounce tonguing (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Tongue (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tongue

Noun

tonguelike \ -​ˌlīk How to pronounce tonguelike (audio) \ 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Hides from cows, which are lower quality than those of steers, have fallen to only about 5% of the value of all byproducts—worth less than tongues and cheek meat. Lydia Mulvany, Fortune, "There’s a Cowhide Glut, As Americans Devour Beef and Leather Falls Out of Fashion," 9 Aug. 2019 Truly heaven on the tongue, and a delicious topping for a bowl of yogurt, cereal (hot or cold) or ice cream: Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Get Cooking: How to select (and utilize) melon," 2 July 2019 The interior is lined with redwood walls and tongue-and-groove ceilings, while a brick fireplace and walls add contrast. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Glass-and-brick midcentury gem on Lake Michigan asks $2.5M," 21 June 2019 The tweet was accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek poster describing the tactics by which foreign trolls divide voters and inject chaos into an election. Jacob Ward, NBC News, "U.S. cybersecurity agency uses pineapple pizza to demonstrate vulnerability to foreign influence," 27 July 2019 Arby's has no immediate plans to sell its crazy new concoctions in stores, and the blog post announcing the megetables reads fully tongue-in cheek. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Why Arby's is testing meat products that look like big carrots," 26 June 2019 There’s so much tongue-in-cheek humor that even though the body count mounts – and some in the audience may be surprised that death comes to animals and beloved figures alike – there’s really no dread. Mark Kennedy, Detroit Free Press, "New ‘Child’s Play’ full of seriously scary fun," 20 June 2019 In the hands of director and choreographer Diane Lala, the answer is dazzling entertainment with enough of a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that makes every show-biz cliché newly endearing. nola.com, "Summer Lyric presents tap-happy love song to Broadway with ‘42nd Street’," 19 June 2019 Read on for a look at some of the incidents that have set tongues wagging. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "MTV VMAs most shocking moments, from Britney Spears and Madonna's kiss to Kanye West's mic grab," 20 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tongue

Statistics for tongue

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tongue

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce tongue (audio) \

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 How to pronounce tongue (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tongue

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tongue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tongue

Spanish Central: Translation of tongue

Nglish: Translation of tongue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tongue for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tongue

Comments on tongue

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

WORD OF THE DAY

not constant or steady

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

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!