Definition of pidgin in English:


Syllabification: pidg·in
Pronunciation: /ˈpijən


[often as modifier]
  • 1A grammatically simplified form of a language, used for communication between people not sharing a common language. Pidgins have a limited vocabulary, some elements of which are taken from local languages, and are not native languages, but arise out of language contact between speakers of other languages. Compare with Creole ( sense 2 of the noun).
    More example sentences
    • Only at a later stage in its development does the pidgin develop productive internal resources for expanding its lexicon.
    • There is, however, some disagreement among scholars over the number of languages in sufficient contact to produce a pidgin.
    • Creolization can take place at any point during the pidgin's life cycle, ranging from a jargon to an expanded pidgin.
  • 1.1 (Pidgin) another term for Tok Pisin.
    More example sentences
    • Brenner also supported the use of pidgin in the classroom.
    • In Taiwan, it's Chinese; in Papua New Guinea, it's pidgin.
    • Now known as Tok Pisin(" talk pidgin "), Melanesian Pidgin is spoken throughout Papua New Guinea.
  • 1.2 [as modifier] Denoting a simplified form of a language, especially as used by a nonnative speaker: we exchanged greetings, communicating in pidgin Spanish
    More example sentences
    • The staff was very friendly - went to a great deal of effort to understand our pidgin Japanese!
    • Monica Ali tells Hasina's part of the story through her letters to her sister in pidgin Bengali, rendered into pidgin English.
    • The peddler approaches the narrator adopting a pidgin English.


late 19th century: Chinese alteration of English business.

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