The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Language \Lan"guage\, n. [OE. langage, F. langage, fr. L. lingua
the tongue, hence speech, language; akin to E. tongue. See
Tongue, cf. Lingual.]
1. Any means of conveying or communicating ideas;
specifically, human speech; the expression of ideas by the
voice; sounds, expressive of thought, articulated by the
organs of the throat and mouth.
Note: Language consists in the oral utterance of sounds which
usage has made the representatives of ideas. When two
or more persons customarily annex the same sounds to
the same ideas, the expression of these sounds by one
person communicates his ideas to another. This is the
primary sense of language, the use of which is to
communicate the thoughts of one person to another
through the organs of hearing. Articulate sounds are
represented to the eye by letters, marks, or
characters, which form words.
2. The expression of ideas by writing, or any other
3. The forms of speech, or the methods of expressing ideas,
peculiar to a particular nation.
4. The characteristic mode of arranging words, peculiar to an
individual speaker or writer; manner of expression; style.
Others for language all their care express. --Pope.
5. The inarticulate sounds by which animals inferior to man
express their feelings or their wants.
6. The suggestion, by objects, actions, or conditions, of
ideas associated therewith; as, the language of flowers.
There was . . . language in their very gesture.
7. The vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or
department of knowledge; as, medical language; the
language of chemistry or theology.
8. A race, as distinguished by its speech. [R.]
All the people, the nations, and the languages, fell
down and worshiped the golden image. --Dan. iii. 7.
9. Any system of symbols created for the purpose of
communicating ideas, emotions, commands, etc., between
10. Specifically: (computers) Any set of symbols and the
rules for combining them which are used to specify to a
computer the actions that it is to take; also referred to
as a computer lanugage or programming language; as,
JAVA is a new and flexible high-level language which has
achieved popularity very rapidly.
Note: Computer languages are classed a low-level if each
instruction specifies only one operation of the
computer, or high-level if each instruction may specify
a complex combination of operations. Machine language
and assembly language are low-level computer
languages. FORTRAN, COBOL and C are high-level
computer languages. Other computer languages, such as
JAVA, allow even more complex combinations of low-level
operations to be performed with a single command. Many
programs, such as databases, are supplied with special
languages adapted to manipulate the objects of concern
for that specific program. These are also high-level
Language master, a teacher of languages. [Obs.]
Syn: Speech; tongue; idiom; dialect; phraseology; diction;
discourse; conversation; talk.
Usage: Language, Speech, Tongue, Idiom, Dialect.
Language is generic, denoting, in its most extended
use, any mode of conveying ideas; speech is the
language of articulate sounds; tongue is the
Anglo-Saxon term for language, esp. for spoken
language; as, the English tongue. Idiom denotes the
forms of construction peculiar to a particular
language; dialects are varieties of expression which
spring up in different parts of a country among people
speaking substantially the same language.