di·​a·​lect ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio)
often attributive
: 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
: one of two or more cognate (see cognate entry 1 sense 3a) languages
French and Italian are Romance dialects
: a variety of a language used by the members of a group
such dialects as politics and advertising Philip Howard
: a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (such as social class)
spoke a rough peasant dialect
: a version of a computer programming language
: manner or means of expressing oneself : phraseology
dialectal adjective
dialectally adverb

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web In school, she was taught the history and culture of mainland China but little about the island itself; the instruction was in Mandarin, rather than in the Taiwanese dialect. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2022 On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, posts using slang and expletives in the local Cantonese dialect to criticize zero-Covid measures have proliferated, seemingly largely evading the eyes of online censors who do not understand it. Nectar Gan, CNN, 9 Nov. 2022 When recording and performing in Spanish, G would often rap in the Nuyorican dialect, representing New York City’s Puerto Rican community, according to her MySpace biography. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2022 Talokan characters communicate with each other in the Yucatec Mayan dialect. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 24 Oct. 2022 Cantonese is also widely used in Hong Kong, with government officials and civil servants using the dialect over Mandarin. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 6 Oct. 2022 After Chiang Kai-shek’s repressive government took over, he was forbidden to speak the Taiwanese dialect at school. Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2022 In their vowel-rich dialect, these actors spoke through the ascending and descending scales of real language without using real words, tapping into a subterranean world of sense. Gabriel Rom, New York Times, 11 Oct. 2022 When the trailer for Blonde debuted last month, some viewers criticized her take on Monroe, particularly her accent and the traces of her Cuban dialect beneath Monroe's breathier pitch. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 1 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dialect was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near dialect

Cite this Entry

“Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



di·​a·​lect ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio)
: a regional variety of a language differing from the standard language
: a variety of a language used by the members of a particular group or class
peasant dialect
dialectal adjective
dialectally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on dialect

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