ver·​nac·​u·​lar | \ vər-ˈna-kyə-lər How to pronounce vernacular (audio) , və- \

Essential Meaning of vernacular

1 : of, relating to, or using the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing vernacular phrases a speaker's vernacular style
2 : of or relating to the common style of a particular time, place, or group the vernacular architecture of the region

Full 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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 While Barker employs vernacular language to reduce the gap between past and present, Miller strives for a more archaic feel. Miranda Seymour, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2021 Koo’s appeal, Radhakrishna says, lies in its distinct feeds catering to vernacular languages such as Hindi, whereas Twitter is dominated by English, the language of the global elite. Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2021 Black-and-white stands outside the usual commercial and vernacular histories, where color photographs have become routine. Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct. 2021 Its remaining original construction — in the vernacular idiom, with touches that prefigure the Baroque, and an Orientalist flared red ceramic tile roof — dates to the late 1500s. New York Times, 24 Sep. 2021 Why is the vernacular image still being dismissed as ephemera? Leanne Shapton, Curbed, 9 Sep. 2021 This is vintage Lockwood: animism, eroticism, and absurdity, equal parts surrealist subconscious and vernacular Americana, stretched to the limits of grammar. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, 5 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The handcrafted tiles complement the texture of warm pecky cypress on a soaring ceiling that expresses the arch idea in a Palm Beach vernacular. Sally Finder Weepie, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Jan. 2022 Before long, classical Chinese was supplanted by a more vernacular prose in official discourse, books, and newspapers. Ian Buruma, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Even those who well-versed in the vernacular of craft cocktails may not know what’s inside a typical bottle of bitters. Caroleine James, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Oct. 2021 But the vernacular of work life for many has changed just as much as their work has. New York Times, 11 Dec. 2021 His instantly recognizable style fused Black vernacular with a deep historical savvy and the interdisciplinary spirit of academia. Hank Shteamer, Rolling Stone, 7 Dec. 2021 The vernacular was good enough — for the artist and the art critic. Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2021 Thus, the story was quickly reframed in the channel’s familiar vernacular. Kate Cray, The Atlantic, 3 Sep. 2021 Buzzwords like organic and gluten-free and antioxidants didn’t exist in her grandmother’s vernacular. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 29 June 2021

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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The first known use of vernacular was in 1601

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vermouth cassis



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Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vernacular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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