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[kuh-loh-kwee-uh l] /kəˈloʊ kwi əl/
characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing; informal.
involving or using conversation.
Origin of colloquial
First recorded in 1745-55; colloquy + -al1
Related forms
colloquially, adverb
colloquialness, colloquiality, noun
quasi-colloquial, adjective
quasi-colloquially, adverb
semicolloquial, adjective
semicolloquially, adverb
uncolloquial, adjective
uncolloquially, adverb
1. formal.
Synonym Study
1, 2. Colloquial, conversational, informal refer to types of speech or to usages not on a formal level. Colloquial is often mistakenly used with a connotation of disapproval, as if it meant “vulgar” or “bad” or “incorrect” usage, whereas it is merely a familiar style used in speaking and writing. Conversational refers to a style used in the oral exchange of ideas, opinions, etc.: an easy conversational style. Informal means without formality, without strict attention to set forms, unceremonious: an informal manner of speaking; it describes the ordinary, everyday language of cultivated speakers. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for colloquial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • colloquial exaggerated turn of phrase; almost "you could wipe them off the earth."

    Cyropaedia Xenophon
  • He was as familiar with colloquial English as he was with his own tongue.

    The Fiery Totem Argyll Saxby
  • Perrin was nettled, for he prided himself on his colloquial style.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • In this way he acquired a colloquial knowledge of that language.

    Wilmot and Tilley James Hannay
  • Mrs. Quabarl, to use a colloquial expression, was knocked off her perch.

British Dictionary definitions for colloquial


of or relating to conversation
denoting or characterized by informal or conversational idiom or vocabulary Compare informal
Derived Forms
colloquially, adverb
colloquialness, noun
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
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Contemporary definitions for colloquial

pertaining to words or expressions more suitable for speech than writing; in informal, conversational style


colloquial language or speech

Word Origin

Latin colloquium 'speaking together''s 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for colloquial

1751, from colloquy "a conversation" + -al (1). Related: Colloquially.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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