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ver·​nac·​u·​lar vər-ˈna-kyə-lər How to pronounce vernacular (audio)
: using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary, cultured, or foreign language
: of, relating to, or being a nonstandard language or dialect of a place, region, or country
: of, relating to, or being the normal spoken form of a language
: applied to a plant or animal in the common native speech as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification
the vernacular name
: 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
vernacularly adverb


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: a vernacular language, expression, or mode of expression : an expression or mode of expression that occurs in ordinary speech rather than formal writing
: the mode of expression of a group or class
: 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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Her parents used to run a furniture business, which informs much of her design vernacular. Vogue, 6 Apr. 2024 For Mar Pietra, Musa, who is from Italy, was inspired by the architecture of Italian Renaissance palazzos, as well as his global travels and South Florida vernacular architecture. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 1 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for vernacular 

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vernacular was in 1601

Dictionary Entries Near vernacular

Cite this Entry

“Vernacular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
ver·​nac·​u·​lar və(r)-ˈnak-yə-lər How to pronounce vernacular (audio)
: of, relating to, or using ordinary especially spoken language


2 of 2 noun
: ordinary spoken language rather than literary language
: a common name of a plant or animal in contrast to its taxonomic name

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