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[pat-wah, pah-twah; French pa-twa] /ˈpæt wɑ, ˈpɑ twɑ; French paˈtwa/
noun, plural patois
[pat-wahz, pah-twahz; French pa-twa] /ˈpæt wɑz, ˈpɑ twɑz; French paˈtwa/ (Show IPA)
a regional form of a language, especially of French, differing from the standard, literary form of the language.
a rural or provincial form of speech.
jargon; cant; argot.
Origin of patois
1635-45; < French: literally clumsy speech; akin to Old French patoier to handle clumsily, derivative of pate paw Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for patois
Historical Examples
  • His voice was deep, sonorous, and somewhat touched with the true Kerry patois.

    Bits of Blarney R. Shelton Mackenzie
  • He only spoke in the patois, which Frank understood very well.

    The Silver Lining John Roussel
  • French was to be no longer a hodgepodge or a patois, but the pure and perfect speech of the king and his court.

  • There is no mistaking it; it is peculiar to Pont du Sable, and note, too, her patois!

    A Village of Vagabonds F. Berkeley Smith
  • “The young patron is mistaken,” interposed the Indian, speaking a patois of the lingoa-geral.

  • Their language was a Spanish patois; their voices were sharp and disagreeable.

    The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid
  • "His Excellency is in there," said the old man, in his Sicilian patois.

    My Strangest Case Guy Boothby
  • The man spoke in patois French, the woman in her native Cree language.

    The Buffalo Runners R.M. Ballantyne
  • patois, a name the French give to a corrupt dialect of a language spoken in a remote province of a country.

    The Nuttall Encyclopaedia Edited by Rev. James Wood
  • “Lower that spar, my lads,” he added, in the patois the men used.

    Rob Harlow's Adventures George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for patois


/ˈpætwɑː; French patwa/
noun (pl) patois (ˈpætwɑːz; French) (patwa)
an unwritten regional dialect of a language, esp of French, usually considered substandard
the jargon of particular group
Word Origin
C17: from Old French: rustic speech, perhaps from patoier to handle awkwardly, from patte paw
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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Word Origin and History for patois

"a provincial dialect," 1640s, from French patois "native or local speech" (13c.), of uncertain origin, probably from Old French patoier "handle clumsily, to paw," from pate "a paw," from Vulgar Latin *patta (see patten), from notion of clumsy manner of speaking. Cf. French pataud "properly, a young dog with big paws, then an awkwardly built fellow" [Brachet]. Especially in reference to Jamaican English from 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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