Definition of Austronesian in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌɒstrə(ʊ)ˈniːʒən/


Relating to or denoting a family of languages spoken in an area extending from Madagascar in the west to the Pacific islands in the east. Also called Malayo-Polynesian.
Example sentences
  • Today, Austronesian languages are spoken from Madagascar in the west, to Easter Island in the east.
  • Small Austronesian languages are another area of current research.
  • Archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago.


[mass noun]
The Austronesian family of languages.
Example sentences
  • He is continuing experiments on the Indo-European issues, and has new work on Austronesian in progress.
  • Some people argue against it, but I think the evidence for Austronesian is very strong.
  • The indigenous languages belong to the Central Oceanic branch of Eastern Austronesian and are divided into eastern and western branches.

Austronesian languages are spoken by about 140 million people, of whom all but 1 million speak a language of the Indonesian group, which includes Indonesian, Javanese, Tagalog, and Malagasy. The other groups are Micronesian, Melanesian, and Polynesian, scattered across the islands of the South Pacific


From German austronesisch, based on Latin australis 'southern' (see austral) + Greek nēsos 'island'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Austro|nes¦ian

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