Definition of trilingual in English:



  • 1(of a person) speaking three languages fluently.

    • ‘According to a survey done in 1860 at least one person in the sixteen families living in the village at that time was trilingual in Finnish, Saami, and Norwegian, although the first language of all the households was Saami.’
    • ‘Among the minority, some of the higher clergy were now, to our knowledge, trilingual, and unlike those known to Brihtric, willing to speak in each language as appropriate.’
    • ‘Our vision of excellence means that our children must be bilingual - or trilingual, or maybe even multilingual in spoken languages and conversant in one or more cyber languages.’
    • ‘‘It's like sculpture,’ says the trilingual actress who has a Quebecoise mother and an Italian father.’
    • ‘From the twelfth to the fourteenth century a well-educated Englishman was trilingual.’
    • ‘As Chone Shmeruk, the great scholar of Jewish literature in Poland, has noted, the interwar culture of the Polish Jews was really trilingual.’
    • ‘And most of the young were bilingual or trilingual (reading and/or speaking French and English as well as Arabic).’
    • ‘They interact with Tigrinya speakers in their everyday life, and most Saho speakers are bilingual and trilingual in Saho and Tigrinya and/or Tigre.’
    • ‘While Simon the cute, violin playing, trilingual young lad is pretty good, his two red-haired cousins are contrived and mostly painful.’
    • ‘I have been pretty lucky in that I have had good results working with professors at the university I work for and also my wife who is trilingual.’
    • ‘Some are even trilingual - in Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua - in regions where the Incas predominate.’
    • ‘In fact, about a month later, they did find a tutor who was trilingual, commanding American Sign Language, English, and Spanish, who began giving classes in their homes.’
    • ‘‘Port is really the result of a historical accident,’ recounted Taylor's trilingual guide, Frédéric da Costa, during the tasting.’
    • ‘This is a very confusing situation for a precocious trilingual five year old, but not such an unusual condition when seen in a pan-Canadian context.’
    • ‘Many first- and second-generation Mayan Americans are trilingual, and can communicate in Spanish, English, and a Mayan dialect.’
    • ‘The trilingual Galluccio is clearly enjoying his entry into the ‘establishment’ and the respect he's finding as an artist on the French side.’
    • ‘However, the care and attention to detail merely begins with the compound, and trilingual wedding coordinators are on hand to ensure that all is perfect up to the exchange of vows and to the festivities beyond.’
    • ‘Being ill in the 1990s and trilingual, I soon met others worldwide who were facing similar concerns, especially in Latin America.’
    • ‘He grew up trilingual, in English, Mandarin Chinese and Malay.’
    • ‘I was impressed to meet a trilingual nine-year-old on holiday in Austria and hoped his good example might rub off on my kids.’
    1. 1.1 (of a text or an activity) written or conducted in three languages.
      ‘trilingual magazines in Chinese, Indonesian, and English’
      • ‘The books are trilingual (English, Dutch and French) in order to make them international market-friendly.’
      • ‘Besides, trilingual translations fill up the booklet.’
      • ‘For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the entire official website is trilingual (Greek, French, English) two and a half years before the Games.’
      • ‘Posted to Kurdistan, he set about trying to decipher King Darius's trilingual inscription on the Great Rock of Bisitun.’
      • ‘This trilingual follow-up, fittingly, sounds like a dispatch from a faraway, enchanted land.’
      • ‘Five collections of verse in Oriya, and translations into English from Oriya and Bengali, testify to his trilingual creativity.’
      • ‘The trilingual texts allowed him to decipher their meaning.’
      • ‘Cummins, in particular, argued that Rossell and Baker's study actually proved the effectiveness of bilingual and trilingual education.’
      • ‘Recorde may have written in English, but he still expected his audience to appreciate a trilingual pun!’
      • ‘Another criticism of this book is that it is not trilingual.’
      • ‘More than 250 historical photographs as well as a trilingual glossary (Hawaiian, English, Spanish) supplement the text.’
      • ‘Montana farmers provided a trilingual manual in English, German, and Spanish titled ‘Pulling, Piling, Topping and Loading Sugar Beets.’’
      • ‘The hybridisation is typically trilingual in the northern Italian macaronic poets involving Latin, Italian, and Po Valley dialects.’
      • ‘Like many restaurants in the area, the place features a trilingual menu, with some dishes seemingly limited to the customers who can order them in Chinese.’
      • ‘The menu is trilingual with Belgian at the top, French underneath and English on the last line.’
      • ‘The teaching was trilingual, in French, Montagnais, and Huron.’
      • ‘Sherley picked up Chinese from her mother, English from her father and Spanish in school, a talent that was the foundation for what may be the world's first trilingual book by someone so young.’
      • ‘John wanted to revitalise the academic study of Islam and to this end edited a new, trilingual version of the Koran in Arabic, Latin and Castilian.’
      • ‘The tests and evaluation procedures were adapted from those used in previous research of Canadian immersion programs and later the Luxembourg system of trilingual education.’
      • ‘The commentator, Shankarappa Master, won the hearts of spectators with his trilingual speech.’


Mid 19th century: from tri- ‘three’ + Latin lingua ‘tongue’ + -al.