Definition of language noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈlæŋɡwɪdʒ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈlæŋɡwɪdʒ//
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    of a country
  1. 1  [countable] the system of communication in speech and writing that is used by people of a particular country or area the Japanese language It takes a long time to learn to speak a language well. Italian is my first language. All the children must learn a foreign language. She has a good command of the Spanish language. a qualification in language teaching They fell in love in spite of the language barrier (= the difficulty of communicating when people speak different languages). Why study Latin? It's a dead language (= no longer spoken by anyone). Is English an official language in your country? see also heritage language Synonymslanguagevocabulary terms wording terminologyThese are all terms for the words and expressions people use when they speak or write, or for a particular style of speaking or writing.language a particular style of speaking or writing:Give your instructions in everyday language. the language of the legal professionvocabulary all the words that a person knows or uses, or all the words in a particular language; the words that people use when they are talking about a particular subject:to have a wide/​limited vocabulary The word has become part of advertising vocabulary.terms a way of expressing yourself or of saying something:I’ll try to explain in simple terms.wording [usually sing.] the words that are used in a piece of writing or speech, especially when they have been carefully chosen:It was the standard form of wording for a consent letter.terminology (rather formal) the set of technical words or expressions used in a particular subject; words used with particular meanings:medical terminology Scientists are constantly developing new terminologies. Literary/​poetic terminology is used for talking about literature or poetry. Literary/​poetic language is used for writing in a literary or poetic style.Patterns formal/​informal/​everyday language/​vocabulary/​terms business/​scientific/​technical/​specialized language/​vocabulary/​terminology A word enters the language/​the vocabulary. see also modern language Wordfinderaccent, alphabet, dialect, grammar, language, literacy, literature, pronunciation, translate, word
  2. communication
  3. 2  [uncountable] the use by humans of a system of sounds and words to communicate theories about the origins of language a study of language acquisition in two-year-olds
  4. style of speaking/writing
  5. 3  [uncountable] a particular style of speaking or writing bad/foul/strong language (= words that people may consider offensive) literary/poetic language the language of the legal profession Give your instructions in everyday language. see also bad language
  6. movements/symbols/sound
  7. 4  [countable, uncountable] a way of expressing ideas and feelings using movements, symbols and sound the language of mime the language of dolphins/bees see also body language, sign language
  8. computing
  9. 5  [countable, uncountable] a system of symbols and rules that is used to operate a computer a programming language
  10. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French langage, based on Latin lingua ‘tongue’.Extra examples Computers will never be able to understand natural language. Her command of language is very advanced for a six-year-old. His letter was couched in very formal language. His strength is that he addresses his readers in plain language. How many foreign languages does she speak? I got by with broken Chinese and sign language. Latin is a dead language. Most local cinemas show films in the original language, with German subtitles. Not all deaf people use sign language. Portuguese is the national language of Brazil. She could speak some Chinese, but never studied the written language. She grew up in Mexico, so her first language is Spanish. She reserved her harshest language for those she believed had betrayed her. Some minority languages are dying out. The referee told the players to mind their language. The writer’s use of language reflects the personality of each character. You could tell from his body language that he was very embarrassed. idiomatic expressions that enrich the language manuscripts written in an unknown language new methods of language learning people using foul language the teaching of English as a second language Have you got a qualification in language teaching? He has a good command of the Spanish language. Italian is my first language. She’s got a degree in modern languages. The following programme contains strong language. They fell in love in spite of the language barrier. They were shouting and using bad/​foul language. Why study Latin? It’s a dead language.Idioms
    mind/watch your language
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    to be careful about what you say in order not to upset or offend somebody Watch your language, young man!
    speak/talk the same language
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    to be able to communicate easily with another person because you share similar opinions and experience
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: language