Definition of glossolalia in English:



mass noun
  • The phenomenon of (apparently) speaking in an unknown language, especially in religious worship. It is practised especially by Pentecostal and charismatic Christians.

    • ‘At other times, dozens of them are laid on top of each other, creating not a rational counterpoint but instead the heady glossolalia of nature.’
    • ‘Pentecostalism takes its name from its central tenet of baptism in the Spirit and the associated experience of speaking in tongues or glossolalia.’
    • ‘The third symptom, glossolalia, was observed in two of the orderlies and one physician, who were admitted over the course of the evening.’
    • ‘The soundtrack combines Pentecostal glossolalia (speaking in tongues) with recordings of unrestrained laughter.’
    • ‘In charismatic Christian communities glossolalia is sacred and referred to as ‘speaking in tongues’ or having ‘the gift of tongues.’’
    • ‘The speaker's words mirror that disorder, the inability to sustain coherent thought, dwindling to glossolalia.’
    • ‘Some Christian services include glossolalia, spirit possession, and faith healing.’


Late 19th century: from Greek glōssa ‘language, tongue’ + lalia ‘speech’.