Definition of vernacular in US English:



  • 1usually the vernacularThe language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.

    ‘he wrote in the vernacular to reach a larger audience’
    • ‘‘Sloan,’ used as a noun, should be poised to enter the vernacular as slang for ‘many things to many people.’’
    • ‘The introduction of a narrator, speaking in the vernacular, only reinforces this separation.’
    • ‘The replacement of a sacred language with the vernacular in English worship made religious reflection unavoidable.’
    • ‘Linguistically, In the Mecca juxtaposes standard English with the vernacular and the language of the streets.’
    • ‘For example, in the case of Li Po, or Li Bai, his poetry is very accessible, because he uses ordinary language, vernacular that everyone can understand.’
    • ‘Using the vernacular means the church, when it teaches the language, teaches the vernacular.’
    • ‘The type of estuary English that most broadcasters (certainly most broadcasters under 40) speak has become the vernacular of the age.’
    • ‘They introduced rhythm and rhyme into medieval poetry and wrote both in Latin and in the vernacular.’
    • ‘For a time most of them wrote in Latin, but they surely did their thinking in the vernacular.’
    • ‘I'm speaking in the vernacular and simplifying, but that is really what happens.’
    • ‘I think the colonial language or the vernacular that I use in the novel comes directly from that research.’
    • ‘They simply called them theotisci, those who speak the vernacular, the language of the people (theod).’
    • ‘Similar results have been found where the vernacular is a non-standard variety.’
    • ‘This is an example of a pattern that is half a millennium old, and is still potent in the vernacular as well as in formal usage.’
    • ‘Poetry and prose began to be written in the vernacular instead of Latin, and the invention of printing contributed to the spread of ideas.’
    • ‘Mellors is capable of approximating the language of his lord and lady; but for him, ordinary English is the vernacular.’
    • ‘I think Indian literature in English and in the vernacular can only reach greatness consistently if the two interact and feed off one another.’
    • ‘Previously you would be fined Rs 5 for speaking in the vernacular in school; now you are threatened with expulsion.’
    • ‘As a result, most children in Kenya are fluent in both languages, in addition to the vernacular spoken at home.’
    • ‘However, the vernacular which is spoken in most informal and family contexts is Creole.’
    everyday language, spoken language, colloquial speech, native speech, conversational language, common parlance, non-standard language, jargon, -speak, cant, slang, idiom, argot, patois, dialect
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    1. 1.1informal with adjective or noun modifier The terminology used by people belonging to a specified group or engaging in a specialized activity.
      ‘gardening vernacular’
      • ‘In the Miller Packard sections the language tends toward the vernacular of the police detective.’
      • ‘Without that working language, and other such scholarly vernaculars, today's globalization discourse would be hard to imagine.’
      • ‘His writing is unquestionably an authentic representation of black street life, especially his mastery of ghetto vernacular.’
      • ‘Lewis and her editor have created a magazine for ‘insiders’ - or, to use the tired fashion vernacular, the ‘in - crowd’.’
      • ‘In golf vernacular, they suffer from a condition called ‘rabbit ears.’’
      • ‘On the one hand, you have an absurdly hyped, burgeoning pop star who strikes rebel poses and affects scenester fashion and vernacular.’
      • ‘Using NWA's original lyrics, Hack has no opportunity to parody the hip hop vernacular, as these rejected video scripts would appear to do.’
      • ‘She ventures into a religious subculture's rhetorical world and returns with a thick description of fundamentalist vernacular.’
      • ‘In Virginia, he discovered and embraced the black southern vernacular as his enduring field of influence, themes, values, forms, and reference.’
      • ‘Playful terms transfer the vernacular of the laboratory to the more formal written language of publications.’
      • ‘Furthermore, to resurrect the extinct Southern vernacular expression, to ‘swan,’ means to swear, to promise.’
      • ‘Assets then passed as a technical term into the vernacular.’
      • ‘It is, in the comic book vernacular, a superhero ‘origin’ story, and represents one of the most unique and credible ones ever brought to the screen.’
      • ‘Folksonomies are, in essence, just vernacular vocabularies; the ad-hoc languages of intimate networks.’
      phraseology, terms, expressions, words, language, parlance, vocabulary, nomenclature
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  • 2Architecture concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings.

    ‘buildings in which Gothic merged into farmhouse vernacular’
    • ‘Sadly, traditional vernacular is either dying or dead - with the ironic exception of the five star coral stone and thatch beach-hotels.’
    • ‘The pragmatic modernism of the architecture marries well with the unfussy vernacular of the old barn.’
    • ‘The rural vernacular, for example, is appropriated not for its romantic idealism but for its structural and economic efficiency.’
    • ‘If anything, it responds to an entirely different vernacular - that of the campus's former function as an air base.’
    • ‘Furman pairs the units with his clean, elegant Hill Country vernacular.’
    • ‘Worth noting is the film's attention to period detail - costuming and vernacular appear fully consistent with the times - and especially its look.’
    • ‘Most of the town's new developments fit quietly into the local vernacular, but some architects are trying to break the mould.’
    • ‘The result is a Shaker-like blend of craft and vernacular.’
    • ‘Cain's solution reinterprets plain-style southern farm vernacular and ‘shotgun’ housing in a contemporary way.’
    • ‘And a distinctive style it is: the romantic, aspiring skyscrapers our cover evokes are the true New York architectural vernacular.’
    • ‘Rather than looking to the immediate local for its architectural reference, Voyager looks across the Indian Ocean to the Cape Dutch vernacular.’
    • ‘Falmouth's new maritime museum responds to and is inspired by the muscular vernacular of nautical buildings.’
    • ‘Is this because he is unaware of the true essence of vernacular, the relationship between function and place?’
    • ‘Progressive vernacular is what Bernie Baker calls his architecture.’
    • ‘Most of the houses are bungalows or two-storey buildings, and all will be built in keeping with Arran's architectural vernacular.’


  • 1(of language) spoken as one's mother tongue; not learned or imposed as a second language.

    • ‘My familiarity with the richness and variety of vernacular language inevitably led me to become a proponent of orality in literacy.’
    • ‘This effort is further complicated by vernacular language that presents its own challenges.’
    • ‘‘X far from fulfils the promise of Y’ is not a vernacular construction - nobody talks like that.’
    • ‘This issue is particularly important in the case of vernacular dialects such as AAVE or Caribbean Creoles.’
    • ‘I hope that others can assemble the jagged rhythms of my stories to unlearn common misperceptions about vernacular English.’
    • ‘Packed with wisdom, vernacular language, and family lore, Redemption Song is a story about the curative power of love.’
    • ‘While many people speak English, in rural areas tribal languages are spoken, in addition to a few other vernacular languages.’
    • ‘They wrote in Latin as well as in their various vernacular dialects.’
    • ‘‘This manual will be translated into vernacular language to allow more access to encourage coffee farming,’ he said.’
    • ‘The introduction of English words into the vernacular dialects will gradually diminish the distance between the scientific and popular language.’
    • ‘The vernacular languages have been introduced as the media of instruction.’
    • ‘No record remains of the education that gave Chaucer lifelong familiarity with Latin and several vernacular languages and literatures.’
    • ‘Of that half, translations from French lead the next-most-frequent vernacular language, Italian, by a ratio of about six to one.’
    • ‘Instead it will become regarded historically as a document that knowingly accelerated the demise of vernacular language usage in the Northern Territory.’
    • ‘French, whose use has been protested by Kanak nationalists, is used in politics; vernacular languages are reserved for private life.’
    • ‘For our French and German visitors, we have some information in their vernacular language which can be read in the museum.’
    • ‘Did these vernacular languages suffer because the writers did not use their mother tongues to flesh their work?’
    1. 1.1 (of speech or written works) spoken or written using one's mother tongue.
      ‘vernacular literature’
      • ‘After this, Ackroyd notes, and applauds, ‘that vernacular straightforwardness… from Beowulf to the works of Sir Thomas More’.’
      • ‘Like Carter, Ruth performs signifiers of whiteness: she wears light colored clothing and eschews black vernacular English.’
      • ‘Publishing of books in vernacular languages still dominates the domestic industry.’
      • ‘Regional variants to the vernacular revival style took account of local materials and building traditions.’
      • ‘It is part of a vernacular literature that goes back unbroken to the fifth or sixth century, possibly earlier, and survives to this day.’
      • ‘Crossing the barriers of vernacular literature, her works have been read by more people and she has been able to create a niche of her own.’
      • ‘This is raw material, sung with vernacular grain in the language.’
      • ‘The juxtaposition of an austere exterior and grand interior is characteristic of the local vernacular tradition.’
      • ‘The key point to remember is that biological altruism cannot be equated with altruism in the everyday vernacular sense.’
      • ‘Many vernacular items tended to imitate known work of professional photographers.’
      • ‘Here is what I believe to be the vernacular understanding of the difference between shame, humiliation and embarrassment.’
      • ‘Can we discern here an eye to the richly sensitised and widely available storehouses of our vernacular literature?’
      • ‘The growth of vernacular literature happened most readily in those places where the authority of the Church seemed to be weakest.’
      • ‘Not only does Hurston allow rural Black Floridians to tell their own folktales, but she presents their tales in Black vernacular speech.’
      • ‘I identified with his heroes, laughed at his jokes, loved the vernacular power and rhythm of his prose.’
      • ‘The state's prime purpose in making the vernacular English Bible accessible to ordinary people was to promote obedience.’
      • ‘I don't think so - not in the popular vernacular sense of that expression.’
      • ‘Moffatt exploits the cultural resonance of photographic style by working in a variety of vernacular traditions.’
      • ‘At a sitting of the local court a defendant used popular vernacular speech while being cross examined by the solicitor.’
      • ‘There are early monuments of vernacular literature from the Middle Ages, as well, that enlighten the study of medieval Europe as a whole.’
  • 2(of architecture) concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings.

    • ‘With their straightforward gestures and careful response to the site, the firm's buildings mix modern and vernacular forms.’
    • ‘This activity can remind us that vernacular architecture is one cornerstone of our identity.’
    • ‘Over the past 20 years, the artist has increasingly brought vernacular architecture and decoration into his sculptures.’
    • ‘The image of sustainable architecture has tended to be of vernacular buildings in a rural Arcadia.’
    • ‘In terms of architecture, vernacular buildings are seen as the opposite of whatever is academic, high style, polite.’
    • ‘He reinterpreted the island's vernacular architecture which had long fascinated him.’
    • ‘It is predominantly an adaptation of Cotswold vernacular architecture with pure arts and crafts embellishments.’
    • ‘Is there a vernacular architecture or way of arranging space, particularly in the holy city, which has been developed or erected by devotees?’
    • ‘Except for the vernacular architecture, it doesn't look all that different from west Texas.’
    • ‘As is the custom in Indian vernacular architecture, Barefoot College courtyards are highly decorated at ground level.’
    • ‘But the disadvantage is the difficulty of capturing the essence of a place and responding to the vernacular architecture.’
    • ‘Informed by simple rural vernacular buildings, Sydney's Equestrian Centre forms part of a new regional park.’
    • ‘As a painting student, I wanted to reference the landscape and things in the landscape, mostly the vernacular architecture, in my painting.’
    • ‘There exist many anomalies in Zambian vernacular architecture.’
    • ‘The list for 2005 includes buildings that range from modest to grand, from vernacular to modern.’
    • ‘The principle of thermal mass is not new - it can be seen in the thick-walled, vernacular buildings of hot, dry, countries.’
    • ‘Both were presidents of the Upper Wharfedale Field Society and involved in vernacular architecture.’
    • ‘One has a roof of fan-shaped shingles, reminiscent of the curved terracotta tiles typical of Kent and Sussex vernacular architecture.’
    • ‘This desktop metaphor does fulfil its chatting purpose but may, in the future, be thought of as early vernacular virtual architecture.’
    • ‘A key example of this for Papanek is vernacular architecture and housing.’


Early 17th century: from Latin vernaculus ‘domestic, native’ (from verna ‘home-born slave’) + -ar.