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  1. the Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic language families collectively, spoken over a broad expanse of Eurasia, from southeastern Europe to the Pacific: variously considered to be a single, genetically related family, with Japanese and Korean sometimes also included, or a group of languages with shared typologies and histories, but not genetically akin.
  1. of or belonging to Altaic.
  2. of or relating to the Altai Mountains.
Also Al·ta·ian [al-tey-uh n, -tahy-] /ælˈteɪ ən, -taɪ-/.

Origin of Altaic

First recorded in 1825–35; Alta(i) + -ic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for altaic

Historical Examples

  • In the case of the Altaic races which we are considering, cause and effect mutually strengthened each other.

    The Soul of the Far East

    Percival Lowell

  • Aston, in a pamphlet on the Altaic tongues, cites an instance which is so much to the point that I venture to repeat it here.

  • A knowledge of these formulae is possessed by wizards (Finnish noita) corresponding to the Shamans of the Altaic peoples.

British Dictionary definitions for altaic


  1. a postulated family of languages of Asia and SE Europe, consisting of the Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic branches, and perhaps also Japanese, Korean, and AinuSee also Ural-Altaic
  1. denoting, belonging to, or relating to this linguistic family or its speakers
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for altaic


1832 as a linguistic family, from French Altaïque, from Altaïen, from Altai, name of a mountain range in Asia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper