Definition of pidgin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɪdʒɪn/


[often as modifier]
1A grammatically simplified form of a language, typically English, Dutch, or Portuguese, some elements of which are taken from local languages, used for communication between people not sharing a common language.
Example sentences
  • The names given to pidgin languages by linguists refer to their location and their principal lexifier or base language: that is, the language from which they draw most of their vocabulary.
  • Lexical items in pidgin languages tend to cover a wider semantic domain than in the base language.
  • They will create a new pidgin language that has a Spanish syntax, just as English is based on an Anglo-Saxon syntax.
1.1 (Pidgin) another term for Tok Pisin.
Example sentences
  • Now known as Tok Pisin, Melanesian Pidgin is spoken throughout Papua New Guinea.
  • Unlike many ethnographers of Papua New Guinea societies who worked in Pidgin, Margaret worked in the vernacular.
  • Iatmul children and many adults are also fluent in Tok Pisin (an English-based pidgin language), one of the national languages of Papua New Guinea.
1.2 [as modifier] Denoting a simplified form of a language, especially as used by a non-native 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.

  • A pidgin is nothing to do with a pigeon, but is a simplified form of a language used for communication between people not sharing a language. It originally represented a Chinese pronunciation of the English word business, and with the meanings ‘business, occupation, or affair’ became part of the simple language used between European and Chinese traders from the 1820s. By the 1850s people were also using pidgin to describe the language itself, especially in the fuller form pidgin English.

Words that rhyme with pidgin

pigeon, smidgen, wigeon

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pidgin

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