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

    ‘buildings in which Gothic merged into farmhouse vernacular’
    • ‘If anything, it responds to an entirely different vernacular - that of the campus's former function as an air base.’
    • ‘Is this because he is unaware of the true essence of vernacular, the relationship between function and place?’
    • ‘Most of the town's new developments fit quietly into the local vernacular, but some architects are trying to break the mould.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Furman pairs the units with his clean, elegant Hill Country vernacular.’
    • ‘Sadly, traditional vernacular is either dying or dead - with the ironic exception of the five star coral stone and thatch beach-hotels.’
    • ‘Most of the houses are bungalows or two-storey buildings, and all will be built in keeping with Arran's architectural vernacular.’
    • ‘The result is a Shaker-like blend of craft and vernacular.’
    • ‘The pragmatic modernism of the architecture marries well with the unfussy vernacular of the old barn.’
    • ‘Progressive vernacular is what Bernie Baker calls his architecture.’
    • ‘Falmouth's new maritime museum responds to and is inspired by the muscular vernacular of nautical buildings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Rather than looking to the immediate local for its architectural reference, Voyager looks across the Indian Ocean to the Cape Dutch vernacular.’


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

    • ‘This effort is further complicated by vernacular language that presents its own challenges.’
    • ‘Packed with wisdom, vernacular language, and family lore, Redemption Song is a story about the curative power of love.’
    • ‘The introduction of English words into the vernacular dialects will gradually diminish the distance between the scientific and popular language.’
    • ‘‘This manual will be translated into vernacular language to allow more access to encourage coffee farming,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For our French and German visitors, we have some information in their vernacular language which can be read in the museum.’
    • ‘I hope that others can assemble the jagged rhythms of my stories to unlearn common misperceptions about vernacular English.’
    • ‘Did these vernacular languages suffer because the writers did not use their mother tongues to flesh their work?’
    • ‘While many people speak English, in rural areas tribal languages are spoken, in addition to a few other vernacular languages.’
    • ‘Instead it will become regarded historically as a document that knowingly accelerated the demise of vernacular language usage in the Northern Territory.’
    • ‘The vernacular languages have been introduced as the media of instruction.’
    • ‘Of that half, translations from French lead the next-most-frequent vernacular language, Italian, by a ratio of about six to one.’
    • ‘This issue is particularly important in the case of vernacular dialects such as AAVE or Caribbean Creoles.’
    • ‘‘X far from fulfils the promise of Y’ is not a vernacular construction - nobody talks like that.’
    • ‘My familiarity with the richness and variety of vernacular language inevitably led me to become a proponent of orality in literacy.’
    • ‘French, whose use has been protested by Kanak nationalists, is used in politics; vernacular languages are reserved for private life.’
    1. 1.1 (of speech or written works) using the mother tongue of a country or region.
      ‘vernacular literature’
      • ‘It is part of a vernacular literature that goes back unbroken to the fifth or sixth century, possibly earlier, and survives to this day.’
      • ‘This is raw material, sung with vernacular grain in the language.’
      • ‘Like Carter, Ruth performs signifiers of whiteness: she wears light colored clothing and eschews black vernacular English.’
      • ‘At a sitting of the local court a defendant used popular vernacular speech while being cross examined by the solicitor.’
      • ‘Not only does Hurston allow rural Black Floridians to tell their own folktales, but she presents their tales in Black vernacular speech.’
      • ‘There are early monuments of vernacular literature from the Middle Ages, as well, that enlighten the study of medieval Europe as a whole.’
      • ‘Regional variants to the vernacular revival style took account of local materials and building traditions.’
      • ‘After this, Ackroyd notes, and applauds, ‘that vernacular straightforwardness… from Beowulf to the works of Sir Thomas More’.’
      • ‘Publishing of books in vernacular languages still dominates the domestic industry.’
      • ‘Can we discern here an eye to the richly sensitised and widely available storehouses of our vernacular literature?’
      • ‘Here is what I believe to be the vernacular understanding of the difference between shame, humiliation and embarrassment.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The growth of vernacular literature happened most readily in those places where the authority of the Church seemed to be weakest.’
      • ‘Many vernacular items tended to imitate known work of professional photographers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The juxtaposition of an austere exterior and grand interior is characteristic of the local vernacular tradition.’
      • ‘I identified with his heroes, laughed at his jokes, loved the vernacular power and rhythm of his prose.’
      • ‘I don't think so - not in the popular vernacular sense of that expression.’
  • 2(of architecture) concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings.

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


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