a. Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
b. Such a system including its rules for combining its components, such as words.
c. Such a system as used by a nation, people, or other distinct community; often contrasted with dialect.
a. A system of signs, symbols, gestures, or rules used in communicating: the language of algebra.
b. Computers A system of symbols and rules used for communication with or between computers.
3. Body language; kinesics.
4. The special vocabulary and usages of a scientific, professional, or other group: "his total mastery of screen language—camera placement, editing—and his handling of actors" (Jack Kroll).
5. A characteristic style of speech or writing: Shakespearean language.
6. A particular manner of expression: profane language; persuasive language.
7. The manner or means of communication between living creatures other than humans: the language of dolphins.
8. Verbal communication as a subject of study.
9. The wording of a legal document or statute as distinct from the spirit.
[Middle English, from Old French langage, from langue, tongue, language, from Latin lingua; see dghū- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.