ver·​nac·​u·​lar | \ vər-ˈna-kyə-lər How to pronounce vernacular (audio) , və- \

Definition of vernacular

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary, cultured, or foreign language
b : of, relating to, or being a nonstandard language or dialect of a place, region, or country
c : of, relating to, or being the normal spoken form of a language
2 : applied to a plant or animal in the common native speech as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification the vernacular name
3 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a period, place, or group especially : of, relating to, or being the common building style of a period or place vernacular architecture



Definition of vernacular (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a vernacular language, expression, or mode of expression : an expression or mode of expression that occurs in ordinary speech rather than formal writing
2 : the mode of expression of a group or class
3 : a common name of a plant or animal as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification : a vernacular name of a plant or animal

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Other Words from vernacular


vernacularly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for vernacular

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of vernacular in a Sentence

Adjective While there are American operas galore, some of which are quite good indeed, there is no vernacular opera tradition in America—instead, we have musical comedy—and now that supertitles have become standard equipment at major American opera houses, the chances that those houses will start regularly performing foreign-language operas in English translation have dropped from slim to none. — Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review, 9 Nov. 1997 Native crafts, the use of local materials, and vernacular buildings were considered integral to each country's heritage, and their preservation and revival became part of the movement to forge a strong national identity. — Wendy Kaplan, Antiques, October 1995 For the proliferation of rich vernacular literatures in the twelfth century secured the place of the vulgar tongues in European society, and this entrenchment of the vernacular tongues made the European peoples more conscious of being separated from each other; decreased the cosmopolitan attitudes of the European nobility; and encouraged xenophobia, which became common in the thirteenth century. — Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, 1993 Hurricanes, fires and economic development unfortunately have caused many examples of both vernacular and more classical architecture to disappear over the years. — Suzanne Stephens, Architectural Digest, 1 Aug. 1990 the vernacular architecture of the region writes essays in a very easy-to-read, vernacular style Noun But ask baseball people about [Michael] Young, and they'll admiringly tell you that he is a "grinder," vernacular for a player who works his butt off. — Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated, 8 May 2006 … the sources for [Cole] Porter's chromaticism and syncopation are the vernacular of black music in America. — Stephen Brown, Times Literary Supplement, 21 Jan. 2005 For Lu Xun helped revolutionize Chinese writing, tugging the written language toward the vernacular so that it was easier to learn, and he even endorsed the heresy of abandoning Chinese characters for the Roman alphabet so that literacy could spread more easily. — Amy Hempel, New York Times Book Review, 19 Aug. 1990 New Mexico is not the easiest region in the country for an architect to establish a practice in. It is not that the area is indifferent to architecture—it is more that the traditional south-western architectural vernacular is so awe-inspiring that it tends to overwhelm most efforts to create a credible personal voice. — Paul Goldberger, Architectural Digest, October 1986 What was required was a vagrant and a visionary, a man of mystic recklessness. The man who dared point the way would have to use the vernacular, and not speak but shriek. Paracelsus (1493–1541) was suspect in his day, and never lost his reputation as a charlatan. — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983 He spoke in the vernacular of an urban teenager. phrases that occur in the common vernacular
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The same Council of Constance that condemned Wycliffe also sentenced Jan Hus to death, punishing another reformer who advocated for preaching and teaching in the vernacular language of Bohemia. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, "What We Can and Can’t Learn from a New Translation of the Gospels," 28 Apr. 2021 The influence of James was still apparent in her sumptuous phrase-making and labyrinthine syntax, but now it was tempered by more vernacular rhythms. Giles Harvey, The New Yorker, "Cynthia Ozick, Smasher of Idols," 5 Apr. 2021 In New York City, the 17 exhibitions at Mmuseumm, which explores humanity and current events by using vernacular objects from around the world, have been accessible 24/7 throughout the pandemic. New York Times, "7 Questions 75 Artists 1 Very Bad Year," 10 Mar. 2021 But for most budget-savvy beauty lovers (like myself and other Allure editors), The Ordinary — which is owned by Deciem — is basically vernacular. Sarah Han, Allure, "The Best Skin-Care Products From The Ordinary," 6 May 2020 Camboulay, another vernacular expression of the French patois, from cannes brulees, refers to the practice of carrying torches of burning cane stalks during the riot. M Nourbese Philip, Harper's BAZAAR, "Pay De Devil: On Celebrating Jouvay," 16 Feb. 2021 Later, the vernacular ritual merged with the Feast of St. Lucy and became a festival of light. Karin Altenberg, WSJ, "‘Wintering’ Review: Rest, Retreat and Renewal," 30 Dec. 2020 The vernacular style of the house — wooden logs chinked with plaster and covered in clapboard — allows historians to date its construction to the 1750s. John Kelly, Washington Post, "These two homes were once among the oldest in D.C. They’re in Virginia now.," 21 Nov. 2020 The poster is exactly that, a sound bite, and vernacular to the core. New York Times, "The 25 Most Influential Works of American Protest Art Since World War II," 15 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Teffi often writes in a highly accented vernacular that presents a challenge, one that’s handled with skill here. Sara Wheeler, WSJ, "‘Other Worlds’ Review: Sketches of a Spiritual Country," 23 Apr. 2021 In baseball vernacular, the Ravens need to hit a couple of home runs, starting with the first round April 29 in Cleveland. Mike Preston,, "Mike Preston: Ravens need to hit home runs in the draft to be serious contenders | COMMENTARY," 13 Apr. 2021 Customer centricity eased its way into business vernacular not long ago. Matt Ranta, Forbes, "Operationalizing Customer Centricity: Ideas To Action," 12 Apr. 2021 One was this mercurial ‘70s lizard king and the other one was a square, to use the vernacular of the time. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, "The true story behind Netflix’s newest crime drama was too bizarre for TV," 2 Apr. 2021 Two areas that can be particularly impacted by the microbiome, says Lin, are the brain and the skin, which is why the gut-brain and gut-skin axis are becoming a more common part of our vernacular. Fiorella Valdesolo, Vogue, "How 3 Start-Ups Are Furthering At-Home Health Care," 17 Mar. 2021 The would-be word needs to be used in the common vernacular in multiple ways. Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "A family is trying to get 'orbisculate' into the dictionary to honor their dad who died of Covid-19," 27 Feb. 2021 After the attack on the Capitol, news reports unearthed that Chansley was a founder of something called the Star Seed Academy (in a certain New Age vernacular, a star seed is a higher being). Marisa Meltzer, Washington Post, "QAnon’s Unexpected Roots in New Age Spirituality," 29 Mar. 2021 Wednesday-Friday with tours that showcase 19th-century Florida vernacular architecture and a home once owned by one of the city’s original developers. Patrick Connolly,, "A day in Tarpon Springs is filled with sea sponges, Greek culture," 14 Mar. 2021

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


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vernacular


Latin vernāculus "belonging to the household, domestic, native" (from verna "slave born in the household"—of uncertain origin— + -āculus, perhaps originally diminutive suffix, though derivation is unclear) + -ar


noun derivative of vernacular entry 1

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Time Traveler for vernacular

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The first known use of vernacular was in 1601

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Statistics for vernacular

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vernacular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for vernacular



English Language Learners Definition of vernacular

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or using the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing
: of or relating to the common style of a particular time, place, or group



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

: the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing

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