Definition of dialect in English:



  • 1A particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group.

    ‘the Lancashire dialect seemed like a foreign language’
    • ‘People in lower socioeconomic groups take public transportation and are more likely to use regional dialects.’
    • ‘Or do we speak slightly different dialects of English?’
    • ‘Informally, most residents speak a local English-based Creole dialect.’
    • ‘It's not helpful to shame people for their dialects, the sociolinguists seem to say.’
    • ‘He was listening to a Yorkshire dialect poetry reading.’
    • ‘My mother broke the news to me in our native Hokkien Chinese dialect.’
    • ‘He was a formidable linguist, speaking 25 languages and many more dialects.’
    • ‘Guyanese speak Creole dialects of English with varying ethnic lexical imprints.’
    • ‘He yelled at me in an archaic dialect of Spanish, and I understood every word.’
    • ‘The terms refer to different dialects of the spoken Chinese language.’
    • ‘The Thai language has four main dialects, and many regional expressions, so there is plenty of margin for error in communication.’
    • ‘The two official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese (mainly the local Cantonese dialect) and English.’
    • ‘There can therefore be no doubt that the scribe was a dialect speaker.’
    • ‘So we might plausibly imagine that these four varieties constitute dialects of one language.’
    • ‘So, no prizes for guessing what this week's dialect word is.’
    • ‘Linguistic science has long recognized that all dialects of a language are linguistically complex and rule governed.’
    • ‘Although there is some overlap, dialect regions are generally separated by tracts of mostly unused sagebrush or forested areas.’
    • ‘Many families speak Alsacien, a dialect peculiar to the region, quite different from either French or German.’
    • ‘By using the dialect the way she does, the reader gets a better understanding of the atmosphere.’
    • ‘The Jutes settled in and near Kent, but the dialect for the region is known as Kentish, not Jutish.’
    regional language, local language, local tongue, local speech, local parlance, variety of language
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Computing A particular version of a programming language.
      • ‘Logix developers build their programs with either the standard or base Logix dialects.’
      • ‘The company has developed a dialect of C to create code for the microengines.’
      • ‘It allows two services to communicate even if they speak two dialects of XML.’


Mid 16th century (denoting the art of investigating the truth of opinions): from French dialecte, or via Latin from Greek dialektos ‘discourse, way of speaking’, from dialegesthai ‘converse with’ (see dialogue).