noun, often attributive
di·​a·​lect | \ ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio) \

Definition of dialect

1 linguistics
a : a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language the Doric dialect of ancient Greek a dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong
b : one of two or more cognate (see cognate entry 1 sense 3a) languages French and Italian are Romance dialects
c : a variety of a language used by the members of a group such dialects as politics and advertising— Philip Howard
d : a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (such as social class) spoke a rough peasant dialect
f : a version of a computer programming language
2 : manner or means of expressing oneself : phraseology

Other Words from dialect

dialectal \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈlek-​tᵊl How to pronounce dialect (audio) \ adjective
dialectally \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈlek-​tə-​lē How to pronounce dialect (audio) \ adverb

Examples of dialect in a Sentence

They speak a southern dialect of French. The author uses dialect in his writing. The play was hard to understand when the characters spoke in dialect.
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Recent Examples on the Web Greg—destroyer of documents, blower of whistles, speaker of his own special dialect—might well leave Logan’s orbit. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 9 Nov. 2021 This year readers were drawn to critiques of literacy guru Lucy Calkins and to research on reading challenges faced by kids who speak a dialect that differs significantly from the kind of English generally used in classrooms and books. Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 21 Dec. 2021 After centuries of isolation, Tangier Island residents speak a unique dialect of English whose roots date back to their Cornish ancestors. Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2021 Since the Duttons originally hail from Tennessee, May worked with dialect coach Jessica Drake (The Walking Dead) to perfect her twang. Lynette Rice, EW.com, 19 Dec. 2021 Zegler worked extensively with dialect coaches Tom Jones, Victor Cruz and Julio Monge to capture the complexities of her accent seen in the film. Katie Song, Variety, 10 Dec. 2021 The other thing that's interesting to me about Paula Jones is she's got a very extreme dialect. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, 12 Oct. 2021 The study also found that the outer coast whales use a vocal dialect unique from other transient whales to communicate with other transient groups off the coasts of the Pacific Northwest. Glenn Garner, PEOPLE.com, 7 Oct. 2021 Now 50, de Matteo — who, for the record, does not speak in Adriana’s unrefined New York dialect — has gone on to make her mark in the likes of Desperate Housewives, Justified, Shades of Blue, and, most recently, the Amazon series Paradise City. Mara Reinstein, Vulture, 1 Oct. 2021

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

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dialect

Middle French dialecte, from Latin dialectus, from Greek dialektos conversation, dialect, from dialegesthai to converse — more at dialogue

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Time Traveler for dialect

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The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for dialect



English Language Learners Definition of dialect

: a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations


di·​a·​lect | \ ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio) \

Kids Definition of dialect

: a form of a language that is spoken in a certain region or by a certain group

More from Merriam-Webster on dialect

Nglish: Translation of dialect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dialect for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dialect


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