Definition of pidgin in English:



  • 1[often as modifier] A grammatically simplified form of a language, typically English, Dutch, or Portuguese, some elements of which are taken from local languages, used for communication between people not sharing a common language.

    • ‘The choir were the most involved group in the church as well as some school children from a local school - they had to learn Pidgin.’
    • ‘The ability of Pidgin to approach/approximate the intimate lives of Edgar and Katrina in the world of the novel is not privileged in school and is in fact penalized.’
    • ‘He could speak a smattering of Maori, or pidgin Maori, where the language is broken down and simplified, so he was given the job of interpreter.’
    • ‘Such a language will be rootless and will evolve within decades into some kind of Pidgin.’
    • ‘New hybrid languages, such as Creoles and pidgins, have been formed as a result of the modifications in languages that have been in contact.’
    • ‘At times it almost sounds as though they're speaking some bizarre pidgin.’
    • ‘The translation often arrives back in a kind of pidgin language, but people still understand.’
    • ‘As we all know, our pidgin dialect lacks the elegance and grace of the Queen's English.’
    • ‘On German plantations and wherever individuals speaking different languages met, a pidgin language referred to as Neo-Melanesian or Melanesian Pidgin developed.’
    • ‘The names given to pidgin languages by linguists refer to their location and their principal lexifier or base language: that is, the language from which they draw most of their vocabulary.’
    • ‘At present, therefore, no single theory can adequately explain the origin of pidgin language.’
    • ‘On a discursive level, writers who utilize Taglish and Pidgin validate these languages as literary mediums of cultural expression.’
    • ‘This varies from use as a first language through use as a second language, as a foreign language, as a component in a Creole or pidgin, right down to its use in fractured messages in airline terminals.’
    • ‘Lexical items in pidgin languages tend to cover a wider semantic domain than in the base language.’
    • ‘His academic specialty is language change and language contact, with a concentration on pidgin and Creole languages.’
    • ‘They will create a new pidgin language that has a Spanish syntax, just as English is based on an Anglo-Saxon syntax.’
    language, dialect, patois, vernacular, mother tongue, native tongue, jargon, argot, cant, pidgin, creole, lingua franca
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1
      another term for Tok Pisin
      • ‘Unlike many ethnographers of Papua New Guinea societies who worked in Pidgin, Margaret worked in the vernacular.’
      • ‘Now known as Tok Pisin, Melanesian Pidgin is spoken throughout Papua New Guinea.’
      • ‘Iatmul children and many adults are also fluent in Tok Pisin (an English-based pidgin language), one of the national languages of Papua New Guinea.’
      • ‘Some Motu also speak Tok Pisin (an English-based pidgin language) and English.’
      • ‘Melpa has over 60,000 speakers, and a portion of that population speaks Tok Pisin (an English-based pidgin language) as a second language.’
    2. 1.2[as modifier]Denoting a simplified form of a language, especially as used by a non-native speaker.
      ‘we exchanged greetings, communicating in pidgin Spanish’
      • ‘It is as sophisticated as pidgin English can be.’
      • ‘They would sit around the table at night playing cards, nattering away in Italian and Anglo-Italian " pidgin ".’
      • ‘However, the masses of the people prefer pidgin (popular) French, called Dioula.’
      • ‘With hundreds of traditional languages, literacy levels are low, including in the third official language, Bislama, a form of pidgin English.’
      • ‘Her ridiculous pidgin English dialogue made her seem like a complete fool.’
      • ‘Yiddish is considered a combination of Hebrew and German - a sort of pidgin language.’
      • ‘Hollywood westerns regularly compel Native American characters to stammer their thoughts in pidgin English, even when conversing among themselves.’
      • ‘A few of the authors transliterated carelessly, even incorrectly, into a sort of pidgin German.’
      • ‘No matter that Pa's knowledge of Japanese was confined to mostly pidgin from the Occupation a little over a decade earlier.’
      • ‘They will speak pidgin science much as they now speak pidgin French.’
      • ‘The staff was very friendly - went to a great deal of effort to understand our pidgin Japanese!’
      • ‘Why do we spend six years learning French in schools to emerge in adulthood with pidgin Franglais?’
      • ‘Monica Ali tells Hasina's part of the story through her letters to her sister in pidgin Bengali, rendered into pidgin English.’
      • ‘Many residents understand and/or speak a pidgin English, which has become a lingua franca in the west-central Pacific.’
      • ‘The peddler approaches the narrator adopting a pidgin English.’
      • ‘After a meal of chicken and fries, I asked the waiter, in my pidgin Arabic, "Where is the disco?"’
      • ‘It was comical, I have managed with my pidgin English and Polish keep both parties happy.’
      • ‘I am worried that I will end up speaking a variant of pidgin English, because so few people at work understand proper English.’
      • ‘I have heard well-meaning Bengalis complain that Vilayat Khan only spoke pidgin Bengali despite having spent a good part of his life in Kolkata.’
      • ‘He also admits that his pidgin English was a serious handicap.’


Late 19th century: Chinese alteration of English business.