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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Almost all the designers who have done so have talked about the language of American sportswear, about something almost vernacular. Rachel Tashjian, Harper's BAZAAR, 30 Apr. 2022 They are expressed by corrugated metal cladding and broad horizontal overhangs for shade, natural ventilation and rain protection, which recall vernacular rubber factories, thereby hinting at the site’s history as a former rubber plantation. Y-jean Mun-delsalle, Forbes, 13 Mar. 2022 One of Mikołaj Grynberg’s vernacular short stories, each a snapshot of Jewish life in today’s Poland, takes the form of a standup act, a string of bitter gags. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 Architecturally, the Winters-Wimberley House is an important vernacular resource associated with Central Texas’s frontier and early settlement periods, according to the National Register of Historic Places application. Timothy Fanning, San Antonio Express-News, 8 Feb. 2022 That visceral, vernacular play, about a cabdrivers’ union, set a new bar for American theatrical realism. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 31 Jan. 2022 Gonzales-Day has spent years gathering vernacular images of Latinos in Southern California in the period that spans the 1850s to the 1950s. Los Angeles Times, 15 Jan. 2022 Loose and vernacular and charged with reverence, these LPs have the ambient feeling of a studio outtake from a recording session that never happened, caught somewhere in the airspace between 50 years ago and today. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2021 Influenced by the vernacular verse of her grandfather Guillaume le Troubadour, Eleanor cultivated poetry at her court of Poitiers, establishing a code of chivalry and manners. Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The emphasis is on the right character, because this historical drama with a fair share of contemporary vernacular is centered around Isabelle Arc of France in the early 1400s. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Apr. 2022 With buzzwords like Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, NFT and the metaverse becoming part of everyday vernacular, everyone from major corporations to entrepreneurs to the general public is starting to take notice. Shivani Vora, Forbes, 19 Mar. 2022 Five core values described in nine words that people now use as part of their vernacular. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 23 Feb. 2022 Even more surprising was the addition of horchata and chicharron in 2021, two words that have seemingly forever been part of the Southern California vernacular. Jenn Harris Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2021 Unfortunately, to use the vernacular of Stephen Haeckel, many innovators adopt a make and sell approach rather than sense and respond. Adi Gaskell, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 As hip-hop rose from an underground phenomenon to a global vernacular, that esprit—of being the best, the baddest, the most beautiful—never vanished. Outside Online, 28 Oct. 2021 Business publications like Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Inc. or the Harvard Business Review are great resources for engaging and informative articles that offer excellent exposure to business vernacular. David Stapleton, Forbes, 8 June 2021 This cycle of a joke term entering the internet’s vernacular and, sometimes, making the leap into offline vocabulary has become more common. NBC News, 2 Apr. 2022 See More

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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Dictionary Entries Near vernacular

vermouth cassis



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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vernacular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of vernacular for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vernacular for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about vernacular


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