Meaning of LANGUAGE in English


I. ˈlaŋgwij, ˈlaiŋ-, -wēj sometimes -ŋw- noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English langage, language, from Old French, from langue tongue, language (from Latin lingua ) + -age — more at tongue

1. : the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a considerable community and established by long usage

French language

Bantu group of languages

classical Latin is a dead language

language barrier between two countries


a. : audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs

b. : a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings

finger language

language of flowers

language of painting

mathematics is a universally understood language

c. : an artificially constructed primarily formal system of signs and symbols (as symbolic logic) including rules for the formation of admissible expressions and for their transformation — compare metalanguage , object language , physical language , sense-datum language , thing-language

d. : the means by which animals communicate or are thought to communicate with each other

language of the birds

dog language


a. : the faculty of verbal expression and the use of words in human intercourse

language exists only when it is listened to as well as spoken — John Dewey

: significant communication

b. archaic : the faculty of speech ; especially : ability to speak a foreign tongue

4. : a special manner of use of expression: as

a. : form or manner of verbal expression

elegant language

: characteristic mode of expression of an individual speaker or writer : style

figurative language

b. : the vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or department of knowledge

legal language

language of chemistry

language of diplomacy

a deep-voiced six-footer who talks the farmer's language — Time

c. : abusive epithets : profanity

shouldn't of blamed the fellers if they'd cut loose with some language — Ring Lardner

5. obsolete : talk ; especially : censure , abuse

safely venture to hold language — T.B.Macaulay


a. archaic : a people or nation as distinguished by its speech

all the people, the nations, and the language , fell down and worshiped the golden image — Dan 3: 7(Authorized Version)

b. : a national division of an international order

language of Aragon of the Hospitalers


tongue , speech , idiom , dialect : language is likely to indicate a more general and established and less specific and individual means of communication

English and French are languages, that is to say they are systems of habits of speech, exactly like Eskimo or Hottentot or any other language — R.A.Hall b. 1911

the noble language of Milton and Burke would have remained a rustic dialect, without a literature, a fixed grammar, or a fixed orthography — T.B.Macaulay

tongue may suggest a more specific and narrowed concept than language

a common language was the ancestor of both of these tongues [English and German] — Publ's Mod. Lang. Association of American

speech may call attention to the spoken rather than the written communication

they argued, corresponded, delivered speeches, made jokes, and wrote satires in Latin. It was not a dead language but a living speech — Gilbert Highet

idiom may suggest the more individual, specific, peculiar, and different from the general

the French-English idiom of Louisiana as Mr. Cable presents it; the Negro-English idiom of the upper South as Mr. Harris presents it — A.J.Nock

returning to the idiom of the Icelandic saga and to the metric of Langland — C.D.Lewis

dialect may refer to a variant of a language, especially one restricted to a limited area and one not entirely unintelligible to speakers of the language of which it is a phase

the situation with regard to the American Indian languages, with many tribes speaking apparently unrelated languages which are in turn subdivided into dialects, is extremely complex — Thomas Pyles

this language was once a dialect developed from a language which may be reconstructed from the historic tongues, and which is conventionally termed Proto-Teutonic — L.H.Gray

In general literary use these terms are often interchangeable

from her early years she must have treasured up those pithy bits of local speech, of native idiom, which enrich and enliven her pages. The language her people speak to each other is a native tongue — Willa Cather


II. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

dialect : to express in language

III. noun

( -s )

Etymology: by folk etymology from languet

: languet 2a

IV. noun

: machine language herein

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.