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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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Now, for generations to come, Locust Grove will stand as more than just a rare architectural representation of an impressive 1803-era log vernacular structure. Bill Frist, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 If that happens with the Vision Pro, references to spatial computing could become as ingrained in modern-day vernacular as mobile and personal computing — two previous technological revolutions that Apple played an integral role in creating. Michael Liedtke, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2024 Firstly, his work is out of step with what the book market craves from Black writers, namely pandering depictions of Black life in extremis, rendered in richly colorful African American vernacular. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2023 Welcome to the world of Erika Nelson Nelson’s choice of anecdote offers a glimpse into the mind and motivation behind the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things, her long-running exploration of roadside vernacular architecture. Paul Nicolaus, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Jan. 2024 Emoji are part of our vernacular, with all of the attendant quirks and slang uses and confusion that come with it. Lora Kelley, The Atlantic, 30 Dec. 2023 The protagonist of this spare novel, drawn from British folklore and Northern English vernacular, is a boy who lives alone in an old house, reading comic books and collecting birds’ eggs, and whose life is disrupted by the arrival of a rag-and-bone man. The New Yorker, 11 Dec. 2023 Written in a kind of dual vernacular — one for when the students struggle to speak English, the other, in the smoother English meant to be their native Farsi — the play translates for us incisively the aspirational drives in a repressed society. 5. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2023 The term kira-kira first appeared in the 1990s — often with a mockingly negative connotation, sometimes with a class element — and entered the vernacular around a decade ago. Hikari Hida, New York Times, 1 Dec. 2023
Large language models are famously good mimics, and campaigns can use them to instantaneously compose messages in a community’s specific vernacular. Jacob Stern, The Atlantic, 31 Jan. 2024 Whereas Greta [Gerwig] really takes on the cultural questions about Barbie and riffs on that and deconstructs that, but in the vernacular of a mainstream entertainment that four-year-old daughters can watch with their 80-year-old grandmothers and both enjoy in the same setting. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 2 Dec. 2023 Nguyen’s distinctive style is marked by fluency in various emotional tones and pop-cultural vernaculars. Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2023 Twitter refashioned the look of communication through a vernacular of memes and GIFs, where resident collectives like Black Twitter and NBA Twitter excelled as virtuosos of the form. WIRED, 6 Nov. 2023 Being back in that vernacular really informed the play. Jenelle Riley, Variety, 1 Sep. 2023 In media and online, he is largely defined through an explosive vernacular of zany interview clips, Photoshopped images, and antagonistic sound bites. Jason Parham, WIRED, 28 Aug. 2023 The playwright, who died in 2005 of liver cancer, transformed the American theater and created a new lyricism out of the black vernacular with a body of work whose ambition and expansiveness rival Walt Whitman’s. Isaac Butler, WSJ, 4 Aug. 2023 In Australian vernacular, a larrikin is a mischievous prankster, a loud, uncultured, badly behaved young person given to flouting convention. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Mar. 2023 See More

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 23 Feb. 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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