language

[lang-gwij]
noun
1.
a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition: the two languages of Belgium; a Bantu language; the French language; the Yiddish language.
2.
communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary sounds in conventional ways with conventional meanings; speech.
3.
the system of linguistic signs or symbols considered in the abstract (opposed to speech ).
4.
any set or system of such symbols as used in a more or less uniform fashion by a number of people, who are thus enabled to communicate intelligibly with one another.
5.
any system of formalized symbols, signs, sounds, gestures, or the like used or conceived as a means of communicating thought, emotion, etc.: the language of mathematics; sign language.
6.
the means of communication used by animals: the language of birds.
7.
communication of meaning in any way; medium that is expressive, significant, etc.: the language of flowers; the language of art.
8.
linguistics; the study of language.
9.
the speech or phraseology peculiar to a class, profession, etc.; lexis; jargon.
10.
a particular manner of verbal expression: flowery language.
11.
choice of words or style of writing; diction: the language of poetry.
12.
Computers. a set of characters and symbols and syntactic rules for their combination and use, by means of which a computer can be given directions: The language of many commercial application programs is COBOL.
13.
a nation or people considered in terms of their speech.
14.
Archaic. faculty or power of speech.

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French, variant spelling of langage, derivative of langue tongue. See lingua, -age

prelanguage, adjective


2. See speech. 4, 9. tongue; terminology; lingo, lingua franca. Language, dialect, jargon, vernacular refer to patterns of vocabulary, syntax, and usage characteristic of communities of various sizes and types. Language is applied to the general pattern of a people or race: the English language. Dialect is applied to certain forms or varieties of a language, often those that provincial communities or special groups retain (or develop) even after a standard has been established: Scottish dialect. A jargon is either an artificial pattern used by a particular (usually occupational) group within a community or a special pattern created for communication in business or trade between members of the groups speaking different languages: the jargon of the theater; the Chinook jargon. A vernacular is the authentic natural pattern of speech, now usually on the informal level, used by persons indigenous to a certain community, large or small.
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World English Dictionary
language (ˈlæŋɡwɪdʒ)
 
n
1.  a system for the expression of thoughts, feelings, etc, by the use of spoken sounds or conventional symbols
2.  the faculty for the use of such systems, which is a distinguishing characteristic of man as compared with other animals
3.  the language of a particular nation or people: the French language
4.  any other systematic or nonsystematic means of communicating, such as gesture or animal sounds: the language of love
5.  the specialized vocabulary used by a particular group: medical language
6.  a particular manner or style of verbal expression: your language is disgusting
7.  computing See programming language
8.  speak the same language to communicate with understanding because of common background, values, etc
 
[C13: from Old French langage, ultimately from Latin lingua tongue]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

language
late 13c., from O.Fr. langage (12c.), from V.L. *linguaticum, from L. lingua "tongue," also "speech, language" (see lingual).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
language  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (lāng'gwĭj)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A system of objects or symbols, such as sounds or character sequences, that can be combined in various ways following a set of rules, especially to communicate thoughts, feelings, or instructions. See also machine language, programming language.

  2. The set of patterns or structures produced by such a system.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The pamphlet sold tens of thousands of copies around the world, and was
  translated into several other languages.
The key to understanding how languages evolved may lie in their structure, not
  their vocabularies, a new report suggests.
The ability to distinguish between two different languages is not unique to
  humans.
If you speak multiple languages, you might have multiple personalities.
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