from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists: Cockney is a dialect of English.
  • n. A variety of language that with other varieties constitutes a single language of which no single variety is standard: the dialects of Ancient Greek.
  • n. The language peculiar to the members of a group, especially in an occupation; jargon: the dialect of science.
  • n. The manner or style of expressing oneself in language or the arts.
  • n. A language considered as part of a larger family of languages or a linguistic branch. Not in scientific use: Spanish and French are Romance dialects.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A variety of a language (specifically, often a spoken variety) that is characteristic of a particular area, community or group, often with relatively minor differences in vocabulary, style, spelling and pronunciation.
  • n. A dialect of a language perceived as substandard and wrong.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Means or mode of expressing thoughts; language; tongue; form of speech.
  • n. The form of speech of a limited region or people, as distinguished from ether forms nearly related to it; a variety or subdivision of a language; speech characterized by local peculiarities or specific circumstances

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make dialectal.
  • n. Language; speech; mode of speech; manner of speaking.
  • n. One of a number of related modes of speech, regarded as descended from a common original; a language viewed in its relation to other languages of the same kindred; the idiom of a district or class, differing from that of other districts or classes.
  • n. The idiom of a locality or class, as distinguished from the generally accepted literary language, or speech of educated people.
  • n. 4 Dialectic; logic.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

French dialecte, from Old French, from Latin dialectus, form of speech, from Greek dialektos, speech, from dialegesthai, to discourse, use a dialect : dia-, between, over; see dia- + legesthai, middle voice of legein, to speak; see leg- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek διάλεκτος (diálektos, "conversation, the language of a country or a place or a nation, the local idiom which derives from a dominant language"), from διαλέγομαι (dialégomai, "I participate in a dialogue"), from διά (diá, "inter, through") + λέγω (légō, "I speak").



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  • As a sociolinguist, I study the science of language in its social context. I began my lecture by describing the different ways that linguists subcategorize languages. Dialects, which most people are familiar with, are regional varieties of a language, like Texan or Midwestern English. But there are also ethnolects, associated with specific ethnic groups, like Chicano and Jewish English, and genderlects which refer to the distinctive ways that women and men talk.

    An idiolect is not the language of idiots, but an idiosyncratic form of language that is unique to an individual. No two individuals—not even family members living under the same roof—speak the exact same language. We all pronounce words slightly differently, have different inflections in our voices, and choose different words to refer to the same thing.

    Jennifer Sclafani, The Idolect of Donald Trump, Scientific American Mind blog, March 16, 2016

    October 10, 2016