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’
    • ‘Poetry and prose began to be written in the vernacular instead of Latin, and the invention of printing contributed to the spread of ideas.’
    • ‘They simply called them theotisci, those who speak the vernacular, the language of the people (theod).’
    • ‘As a result, most children in Kenya are fluent in both languages, in addition to the vernacular spoken at home.’
    • ‘I think the colonial language or the vernacular that I use in the novel comes directly from that research.’
    • ‘For a time most of them wrote in Latin, but they surely did their thinking in the vernacular.’
    • ‘The replacement of a sacred language with the vernacular in English worship made religious reflection unavoidable.’
    • ‘The type of estuary English that most broadcasters (certainly most broadcasters under 40) speak has become the vernacular of the age.’
    • ‘The introduction of a narrator, speaking in the vernacular, only reinforces this separation.’
    • ‘They introduced rhythm and rhyme into medieval poetry and wrote both in Latin and in the vernacular.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think Indian literature in English and in the vernacular can only reach greatness consistently if the two interact and feed off one another.’
    • ‘‘Sloan,’ used as a noun, should be poised to enter the vernacular as slang for ‘many things to many people.’’
    • ‘Using the vernacular means the church, when it teaches the language, teaches the vernacular.’
    • ‘Mellors is capable of approximating the language of his lord and lady; but for him, ordinary English is the vernacular.’
    • ‘Similar results have been found where the vernacular is a non-standard variety.’
    • ‘Previously you would be fined Rs 5 for speaking in the vernacular in school; now you are threatened with expulsion.’
    • ‘However, the vernacular which is spoken in most informal and family contexts is Creole.’
    • ‘I'm speaking in the vernacular and simplifying, but that is really what happens.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Linguistically, In the Mecca juxtaposes standard English with the vernacular and the language of the streets.’
    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’
      • ‘On the one hand, you have an absurdly hyped, burgeoning pop star who strikes rebel poses and affects scenester fashion and vernacular.’
      • ‘Folksonomies are, in essence, just vernacular vocabularies; the ad-hoc languages of intimate networks.’
      • ‘In the Miller Packard sections the language tends toward the vernacular of the police detective.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In golf vernacular, they suffer from a condition called ‘rabbit ears.’’
      • ‘In Virginia, he discovered and embraced the black southern vernacular as his enduring field of influence, themes, values, forms, and reference.’
      • ‘Without that working language, and other such scholarly vernaculars, today's globalization discourse would be hard to imagine.’
      • ‘She ventures into a religious subculture's rhetorical world and returns with a thick description of fundamentalist vernacular.’
      • ‘Assets then passed as a technical term into the vernacular.’
      • ‘Furthermore, to resurrect the extinct Southern vernacular expression, to ‘swan,’ means to swear, to promise.’
      • ‘Playful terms transfer the vernacular of the laboratory to the more formal written language of publications.’
      • ‘Using NWA's original lyrics, Hack has no opportunity to parody the hip hop vernacular, as these rejected video scripts would appear to do.’
      • ‘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’.’
      phraseology, terms, expressions, words, language, parlance, vocabulary, nomenclature
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  • 2Architecture concerned with domestic and functional rather than monumental buildings.

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


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

    • ‘I hope that others can assemble the jagged rhythms of my stories to unlearn common misperceptions about vernacular English.’
    • ‘The vernacular languages have been introduced as the media of instruction.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The introduction of English words into the vernacular dialects will gradually diminish the distance between the scientific and popular language.’
    • ‘Did these vernacular languages suffer because the writers did not use their mother tongues to flesh their work?’
    • ‘‘This manual will be translated into vernacular language to allow more access to encourage coffee farming,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Of that half, translations from French lead the next-most-frequent vernacular language, Italian, by a ratio of about six to one.’
    • ‘‘X far from fulfils the promise of Y’ is not a vernacular construction - nobody talks like that.’
    • ‘Instead it will become regarded historically as a document that knowingly accelerated the demise of vernacular language usage in the Northern Territory.’
    • ‘This issue is particularly important in the case of vernacular dialects such as AAVE or Caribbean Creoles.’
    • ‘They wrote in Latin as well as in their various vernacular dialects.’
    • ‘No record remains of the education that gave Chaucer lifelong familiarity with Latin and several vernacular languages and literatures.’
    1. 1.1 (of speech or written works) spoken or written using one's mother tongue.
      ‘vernacular literature’
      • ‘Publishing of books in vernacular languages still dominates the domestic industry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is part of a vernacular literature that goes back unbroken to the fifth or sixth century, possibly earlier, and survives to this day.’
      • ‘At a sitting of the local court a defendant used popular vernacular speech while being cross examined by the solicitor.’
      • ‘Moffatt exploits the cultural resonance of photographic style by working in a variety of vernacular traditions.’
      • ‘The state's prime purpose in making the vernacular English Bible accessible to ordinary people was to promote obedience.’
      • ‘The key point to remember is that biological altruism cannot be equated with altruism in the everyday vernacular sense.’
      • ‘After this, Ackroyd notes, and applauds, ‘that vernacular straightforwardness… from Beowulf to the works of Sir Thomas More’.’
      • ‘Regional variants to the vernacular revival style took account of local materials and building traditions.’
      • ‘The juxtaposition of an austere exterior and grand interior is characteristic of the local vernacular tradition.’
      • ‘Like Carter, Ruth performs signifiers of whiteness: she wears light colored clothing and eschews black vernacular English.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is raw material, sung with vernacular grain in the language.’
      • ‘I don't think so - not in the popular vernacular sense of that expression.’
      • ‘There are early monuments of vernacular literature from the Middle Ages, as well, that enlighten the study of medieval Europe as a whole.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Can we discern here an eye to the richly sensitised and widely available storehouses of our vernacular literature?’
      • ‘I identified with his heroes, laughed at his jokes, loved the vernacular power and rhythm of his prose.’
  • 2(of architecture) concerned with domestic and functional rather than monumental buildings.

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


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