Dialect Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster


noun, often attributive
di·​a·​lect | \ ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio) \

Definition of dialect

1 linguistics
a : a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language the Doric dialect of ancient Greek a dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong
b : one of two or more cognate (see cognate entry 1 sense 3a) languages French and Italian are Romance dialects
c : a variety of a language used by the members of a group such dialects as politics and advertising— Philip Howard
d : a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (such as social class) spoke a rough peasant dialect
f : a version of a computer programming language
2 : manner or means of expressing oneself : phraseology

Other Words from dialect

dialectal \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈlek-​tᵊl How to pronounce dialect (audio) \ adjective
dialectally \ ˌdī-​ə-​ˈlek-​tə-​lē How to pronounce dialect (audio) \ adverb

Examples of dialect in a Sentence

They speak a southern dialect of French. The author uses dialect in his writing. The play was hard to understand when the characters spoke in dialect.
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Recent Examples on the Web One of Afghanistan’s two official languages, Dari, is a dialect of Persian, and the two countries share many traditions, including celebrating the Nowruz new year holiday in the spring. BostonGlobe.com, 26 Oct. 2021 The prose of a writer whose native tongue was the Triestine dialect struck some critics as too far from the classic Tuscan to be literary, and his style was disparaged as unpolished and dull. Sigrid Nunez, Harper's Magazine, 28 Sep. 2021 Stewart worked with a dialect coach for four months. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2021 Speaking the same dialect and bonded by their regional prejudices, the two men and their allies from Gyeongsang, a southeast province, climbed the army hierarchy, sponsored by the military strongman Park Chung-hee. New York Times, 26 Oct. 2021 In a statement to the AP, a Facebook spokesperson said that over the last two years the company has invested in recruiting more staff with local dialect and topic expertise to bolster its review capacity globally. oregonlive, 25 Oct. 2021 All were Levantines who spoke the same dialect; all loved the same punning humor, devoured the same cuisine, abided by strict rules of hospitality, and approached any purchase as a three-act play: bargain, stage a walk-out, then settle. Adam Kuper, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2021 To find that essence, the actress leaned heavily into research, working with famed dialect coach William Conacher (who also trained Corrin and Naomi Watts for their respective screen Spencers) and immersing herself in piles of Diana lore. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 5 Oct. 2021 On the first day on set in Morocco, Yacoub worked with her Kurdish dialect coach. Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dialect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dialect

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dialect

Middle French dialecte, from Latin dialectus, from Greek dialektos conversation, dialect, from dialegesthai to converse — more at dialogue

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Time Traveler for dialect

Time Traveler

The first known use of dialect was in 1566

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Statistics for dialect

Last Updated

6 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

Dialect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for dialect



English Language Learners Definition of dialect

: a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations


di·​a·​lect | \ ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt How to pronounce dialect (audio) \

Kids Definition of dialect

: a form of a language that is spoken in a certain region or by a certain group

More from Merriam-Webster on dialect

Nglish: Translation of dialect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dialect for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dialect


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