universal grammar


: the study of general principles believed to underlie the grammatical phenomena of all languages
also : such principles viewed as part of an innate human capacity for learning a language

Examples of universal grammar in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But only four of them appeared in more than one family, indicating that as far as word order is concerned, this aspect of universal grammar doesn't seem to hold up. Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 15 Apr. 2011 The other was devised to violate the rules of universal grammar. Marion Long, Discover Magazine, 28 Nov. 2011 Chomsky has devoted much of his life to advancing the theory that there is a universal grammar, or at least a set of structural concepts, that underpinned all human languages, and that this grammar is somehow hard-wired into the brain. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 8 Nov. 2022 Until recently, the kids playing pickup games, lending their own vocabulary to a universal grammar, were calling themselves Messi. The New York Review of Books, 5 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'universal grammar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1751, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of universal grammar was in 1751

Dictionary Entries Near universal grammar

Cite this Entry

“Universal grammar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/universal%20grammar. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

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