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



    BrE BrE//tʌŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//tʌŋ//
    Mouth and teeth
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  1. 1   [countable] the soft part in the mouth that moves around, used for tasting, swallowing, speaking, etc. He clicked his tongue to attract their attention. She ran her tongue over her lips. It's very rude to stick your tongue out at people. See related entries: Mouth and teeth
  2. 2 [uncountable, countable] the tongue of some animals, cooked and eaten a slice of ox tongue
  3. 3[countable] (formal or literary) a language None of the tribes speak the same tongue. I tried speaking to her in her native tongue. see also mother tongue
  4. 4[singular] a particular way of speaking He has a sharp tongue. (formal) I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head (= speak politely). see also silver tongue
  5. 5-tongued (in adjectives) speaking in the way mentioned sharp-tongued
  6. 6[countable] a long narrow piece of leather under the laces on a shoe
  7. 7[countable] tongue (of something) (literary) something that is long and narrow and shaped like a tongue a tongue of flame
  8. Word OriginOld English tunge, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tong, German Zunge, and Latin lingua.Extra examples Before she could find her tongue= speak the door had closed behind him. Everyone knows now, thanks to Ken’s loose tongue. He has a reputation for having a sharp tongue. He ran his tongue nervously over his lips. He said it was a slip of the tongue= a mistake in speaking and apologized. His tongue licked dry lips. It was on the tip of her tongue to refuse. It’s not a name that exactly trips off the tongue. She could hear men whispering in a foreign tongue. She could tear a character to pieces in three minutes with her sharp tongue. She speaks English and Danish, though her native tongue is German. She was dying to say something sarcastic to him, but bit her tongue and stayed silent. The dog lay in a patch of shade with its tongue hanging out. The snake’s tongue flicked out of its mouth. The wine had loosened his tongue. They were speaking a foreign tongue. This is a small island and tongues are beginning to wag. Tongues of flame licked up the walls. You just watch your tongue! I tried speaking to her in her mother tongue. The market place was full of people speaking many strange tongues.Idioms to stop yourself from saying something that might upset somebody or cause an argument, although you want to speak I didn't believe her explanation but I bit my tongue.
    (has the) cat got your tongue?
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    (informal) said to somebody, especially a child, who stays silent when expected to speak, for example after being asked a question What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?
    to be able to speak or express your opinion
    get your tongue around/round something
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    to pronounce a difficult word correctly He was having trouble getting his tongue around my name.
    to talk too much, especially about things that are private (old-fashioned) to say nothing although you would like to give your opinion
    loosen somebody’s tongue
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    to make somebody talk more freely than usual A bottle of wine had loosened Harry's tongue.
    on the tip of your tongue
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    if a word or name is on the tip of your tongue, you are sure that you know it but you cannot remember it
    roll/slip/trip off the tongue
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    to be easy to say or pronounce It's not a name that exactly trips off the tongue, is it?
    (informal) to cause people to start talking about somebody’s private affairs His sudden resignation set tongues wagging.
    a slip of the pen/tongue
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    a small mistake in something that you write or say Did I call you Richard? Sorry, Robert, just a slip of the tongue.
    watch your mouth/tongue
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    to be careful what you say in order not to offend somebody or make them angry
    with your tongue in your cheek, with tongue in cheek
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    if you say something with your tongue in your cheek, you are not being serious and mean it as a joke
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tongue