Definition of patois in English:



  • 1The dialect of the common people of a region, differing in various respects from the standard language of the rest of the country.

    ‘the nurse talked to me in a patois that even Italians would have had difficulty in understanding’
    • ‘The men were droning at each other in their Greek-inflected patois, or singing through their noses to the accompaniment of a flute out of tune.’
    • ‘Corsican was designated as a patois, a provincial dialect.’
    • ‘At the age of 14, she began to write and dramatize poems using patois rather than standard English.’
    • ‘But a Creole patois, a mixed-language dialect, is spoken in the country.’
    • ‘The language is mostly the quaint island patois - not the stuff of verse drama.’
    • ‘He writes in the patois of Barbados, in the voices of village women, a language he makes both playful and sensuous.’
    • ‘Thus, a Frenchman who spoke Breton and French would not be considered bilingual because Breton is of low status and considered a patois rather than a language.’
    • ‘The inhabitants of this territory speak the familiar Tharp-invented patois.’
    • ‘The official language is Standard English - patois is very rarely spoken today.’
    • ‘Grenadian patois is different from that spoken on the other Windward Islands that make up Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.’
    • ‘They also recall Saint Lucia's checkered colonial past, reminding the visitor that many locals still speak a French patois, even though English is the island's official language.’
    • ‘It is reflected in the islanders' Catholicism, in their French-based patois, and in such customs as its Flower Festivals.’
    • ‘The most famous writer in the Macau patois was José dos Santos Ferreira.’
    • ‘The National Assembly decided in 1790 to translate its decrees into minority languages and various patois.’
    • ‘Today I wanted to talk about Bajan as a dialect or language or patois or whatever you wish to call it.’
    • ‘Their language has crystallised in the Bajan patois.’
    • ‘In Jamaica, we speak English primarily but more often we speak the local dialect, patois.’
    • ‘Those Belgians from the south speak Walloon, which is a French patois derived from Latin.’
    • ‘English is the official language of Grenada, but many Grenadians speak patois, a dialect that combines English words with elements of French and African languages.’
    • ‘They speak English, French, or an English patois at home and are mostly Protestant.’
    vernacular, dialect, local parlance, local idiom, local slang, local speech, local talk, local tongue, local usage, local variety, regional language, non-standard language, non-standard variety, jargon, argot, patter, cant, -speak
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The jargon or informal speech used by a particular social group.
      ‘the raunchy patois of inner-city kids’
      • ‘At the other extreme, it is favoured by inner-city teens who appear to communicate entirely in an impenetrable mix of street slang and patois.’
      • ‘What is it about spring training that reduces normally gruff sportswriters to the patois of travel brochures?’
      • ‘To emulate (in the specific patois of archivists) is to re-create a work that uses a defunct technology by essentially re-copying it into a current technology.’
      • ‘There was a new vocabulary for softball, a strange patois of drives and strokes and working boasts and ‘game balls.’’
      • ‘How do you develop a realistic-sounding slang patois?’
      • ‘We have 1984 today; even if not in the form described by Orwell; since newspeak is replaced by the patois of the gang leaders and international body smugglers.’


Mid 17th century: French, literally rough speech perhaps from Old French patoier treat roughly from patte paw.