Definition of language in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlaŋɡwɪdʒ/


1 [mass noun] The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way: a study of the way children learn language [as modifier]: language development
More example sentences
  • After spoken language came the written word, and the boy dove into literature with grim determination.
  • This play on the oral and written language mirrors the structure of the blues and the instrumental variations of jazz.
  • In Darwin's apt phrase, the ability of humans to learn language is ‘an instinctive tendency to acquire an art’.
1.1A non-verbal method of expression or communication: body language
More example sentences
  • The interesting question is whether the non-verbal language is conscious or not.
  • Neuroliguistic programing with nonverbal language might function… it works when I want to shoo away book sellers.
  • Body language, expressions, and environmental cues can deepen emotional bonds.
speech, writing, communication, verbal expression, verbalization, vocalization, conversation, speaking, talking, words, utterance, vocabulary, articulation, enunciation, pronunciation, talk, discourse, interchange, intercourse, interaction
archaic converse
2A system of communication used by a particular country or community: the book was translated into twenty-five languages
More example sentences
  • In many communities switching between languages serves important functions.
  • Such verse was unknown in classical Greek but common in Latin and the Celtic and Germanic languages.
  • In many communities, the language of choice is neither of Canada's two official languages.
tongue, speech, mother tongue, native tongue, dialect, vernacular;
Indian  bhasha
informal lingo
2.1 Computing A system of symbols and rules for writing programs or algorithms: the systems were developed using languages such as Fortran and Basic
More example sentences
  • It stands for Structured Query Language and is a language that all relational databases understand.
  • A simple port scanner can be written in under 15 minutes by a good programmer in a language such as Java or Perl.
  • Whether this is done by studying a programming language like C or PERL, or any of the many others, is immaterial.
3 [mass noun] The style of a piece of writing or speech: he explained the procedure in simple, everyday language
More example sentences
  • More specifically there are discussions of his language and poetic style as well as of the topics and ideas in his work.
  • And later, these men and women had to do a minute analysis of one another's diction, style, language, and so on.
  • His work, with its different theatrical styles and unique language, has invented an entirely new kind of theatre experience.
3.1The phraseology and vocabulary of a particular profession, domain, or group: legal language
More example sentences
  • Although phrased in diplomatic language, this was a clear warning to China not to seek to retake Taiwan by force.
  • The cardinal's claim, filed in court by his attorneys, is boilerplate legal defense language.
  • The serpentine syntax of legal language is often used to obfuscate meaning and confuse those outside the law.
wording, diction, phrasing, phraseology, style, vocabulary, terminology, expressions, turns of phrase, parlance, manner of writing/speaking, way of talking, form/mode of expression, usages, locutions, idiolect, choice of words, rhetoric, oratory;
speech, dialect, vernacular, regionalisms, provincialisms, localisms, patois, lingua franca, slang, idioms, colloquialisms, jargon, argot, barbarisms, vulgarisms, cant, newspeak;
informal lingo, legalese, journalese, technospeak, geekspeak, gobbledegook
3.2 (usually as bad/foul/strong language) Coarse or offensive language: the film contains some violence and bad language
More example sentences
  • A strict control of blasphemy and bad language and other offensive things was maintained.
  • Caution: this article contains strong language and may be offensive to some readers.
  • Profanity, vulgarity, bad language and all such other improprieties of speech were things that just might cause him to all but faint.


speak the same language

Understand one another as a result of shared opinions or values: when it comes to business, we both speak the same language
More example sentences
  • In addition, she thinks that genuine fashion experts need a website that can speak the same language and recognise the value of, say, an original 1950s Chanel pastel-tweed suit.
  • Maybe they are, but don't believe for a second that it follows that you'll understand them, or that you're actually speaking the same language.
  • The JNIR speaks the same language as the media buyers, and it makes people understand the medium.


Middle English: from Old French langage, based on Latin lingua 'tongue'.

  • The word language is from Old French langage, based on Latin lingua ‘tongue’, which is also found in linguist (late 16th century), and goes back to an Indo-European root shared with lick (Old English). The expression to lick someone into shape comes from the old tradition that bear cubs were born a formless mass, and had literally to be licked into shape by their mothers. Lingo (mid 17th century) is probably from the Portuguese form of lingua.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: lan|guage

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