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
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

Nike’s special Crystal Fabric weaves 50 thousand (yes, 50 thousand) Swarovski gems into the shoes’ golden racing stripes, which is accented on the sides and tongues with a bright red logo swoosh. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Nike Released a Pair of Swarovski-Covered Air Max 97 Shoes," 26 Dec. 2018 Yet exclusive breastfeeding rates tend to drop off within the first six months of a baby’s life, due to the wide range of struggles a mom may encounter, from tongue ties to difficulty latching to, yes, low milk supply. E.j. Dickson, Vox, "Inside the mommy-friendly, scientifically sketchy world of breastfeeding supplements," 20 Dec. 2018 One odd potential side effect of typical antipsychotics is something known as tardive dyskinesia, a condition characterized by repetitive involuntary movements that usually occur in the face, neck, and tongue. Kimberly Truong, SELF, "11 Side Effects of Antipsychotics You Should Know About," 7 Dec. 2018 Beyond sticking out her tongue to taste the delicious window, Princess Charlotte was also photographed watching her big brother Prince George give a royal wave to the crowd. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "Princess Charlotte Tastes a Delicious Window," 10 July 2018 In episodes spanning a century or so, family dramas mingle with tales of murder in colonial Ceylon, of an Angolan butcher who names his daughter for a sea nymph, of a man who defiantly sticks out his tongue as he is burned alive. George Packer, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 16 June 2018 An embarrassing slip of the tongue by the announcer during Butler University's recent graduation ceremony was put on the national stage Tuesday night. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "'Forgive me!': Jimmy Fallon highlights embarrassing Butler University graduation flub," 17 May 2018 Someone almost always smiling, who often had her hands in her mouth and seemed to love sticking her tongue out. Keith Bierygolick, Cincinnati.com, "Records: Babysitter struck 3-year-old, who later died, because she dumped ketchup in toilet," 16 Apr. 2018 For starters, kids with Hunter Syndrome have a very distinct look: broad nose, round cheeks, thick lips and tongue, and bushy eyebrows. Emily Lieber, Good Housekeeping, "A Rare Disease Handed My Sweet Baby Boy a Death Sentence — But I’m Fighting Like Hell to Save Him," 13 July 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

3 Jan 2019

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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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

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