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Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English language, from Old French language, from Vulgar Latin *linguāticum, from Latin lingua ‎(tongue, speech, language), from Old Latin dingua ‎(tongue), from Proto-Indo-European *dn̥ǵʰwéh₂s ‎(tongue, speech, language). Displaced native Middle English rearde, ȝerearde ‎(language) (from Old English reord ‎(language, speech)), Middle English londspreche, londspeche ‎(language) (from Old English *landsprǣċ ‎(language, national tongue), Old English þēod and þēodisc ‎(language).


language ‎(countable and uncountable, plural languages)


The English Wiktionary uses the English language to define words from all of the world's languages.

This person is saying "hello" in American sign language.
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  1. (countable) A body of words, and set of methods of combining them (called a grammar), understood by a community and used as a form of communication.
    the English language and the German language are related
    deaf and mute people communicate using languages like ASL
    • 1867, Report on the Systems of Deaf-Mute Instruction pursued in Europe, quoted in 1983 in History of the College for the Deaf, 1857-1907 (ISBN 0913580856), page 240:
      Hence the natural language of the mute is, in schools of this class, suppressed as soon and as far as possible, and its existence as a language, capable of being made the reliable and precise vehicle for the widest range of thought, is ignored.
    • 1900, William Beckford, The History of the Caliph Vathek, page 50:
      No language could express his rage and despair.
    • 2000, Geary Hobson, The Last of the Ofos (ISBN 0816519595), page 113:
      Mr. Darko, generally acknowledged to be the last surviving member of the Ofo Tribe, was also the last remaining speaker of the tribe's language.
  2. (uncountable) The ability to communicate using words.
    the gift of language
  3. (uncountable) The vocabulary and usage of a particular specialist field.
    legal language;   the language of chemistry
    • 1893, Walter Besant, The Ivory Gate, Prologue:
      Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language, he expressed the important words by an initial, a medial, or a final consonant, and made scratches for all the words between; his clerks, however, understood him very well.
  4. (countable, uncountable) The expression of thought (the communication of meaning) in a specified way.
    body language;   the language of the eyes
    • 2001, Eugene C. Kennedy, ‎Sara C. Charles, On Becoming a Counselor (ISBN 0824519132):
      A tale about themselves [is] told by people with help from the universal languages of their eyes, their hands, and even their shirting feet.
  5. (countable, uncountable) A body of sounds, signs and/or signals by which animals communicate, and by which plants are sometimes also thought to communicate.
    • 1983, The Listener, volume 110, page 14:
      A more likely hypothesis was that the attacked leaves were transmitting some airborne chemical signal to sound the alarm, rather like insects sending out warnings [] But this is the first time that a plant-to-plant language has been detected.
    • 2009, Animals in Translation, page 274:
      Prairie dogs use their language to refer to real dangers in the real world, so it definitely has meaning.
  6. (computing, countable) A computer language; a machine language.
    • 2015, Kent D. Lee, Foundations of Programming Languages (ISBN 3319133144), page 94:
      In fact pointers are called references in these languages to distinguish them from pointers in languages like C and C++.
  7. (uncountable) Manner of expression.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Cowper:
      Their language simple, as their manners meek, []
  8. (uncountable) The particular words used in a speech or a passage of text.
    The language used in the law does not permit any other interpretation.
    The language he used to talk to me was obscene.
  9. (uncountable) Profanity.
    • 1978, James Carroll, Mortal Friends, ISBN 0440157897, page 500:
      "Where the hell is Horace?" ¶ "There he is. He's coming. You shouldn't use language."
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
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language ‎(third-person singular simple present languages, present participle languaging, simple past and past participle languaged)

  1. (rare, now nonstandard) To communicate by language; to express in language.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Fuller:
      Others were languaged in such doubtful expressions that they have a double sense.

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Alteration of languet.


language ‎(plural languages)

  1. A languet, a flat plate in or below the flue pipe of an organ.
    • 1896, William Horatio Clarke, The Organist's Retrospect, page 79:
      A flue-pipe is one in which the air passes through the throat, or flue, which is the narrow, longitudinal aperture between the lower lip and the tongue, or language. [] The language is adjusted by slightly elevating or depressing it, []




language m ‎(plural languages)

  1. Archaic spelling of langage.

Middle French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


language m (plural languages)

  1. language (style of communicating)

See also[edit]

Old French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


Vulgar Latin *linguāticum, from Classical Latin lingua ‎(tongue, language).


language f ‎(oblique plural languages, nominative singular language, nominative plural languages)

  1. language (style of communicating)


See also[edit]