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[pij-uh n] /ˈpɪdʒ ən/
an auxiliary language that has come into existence through the attempts by the speakers of two different languages to communicate and that is primarily a simplified form of one of the languages, with a reduced vocabulary and grammatical structure and considerable variation in pronunciation.
(loosely) any simplified or broken form of a language, especially when used for communication between speakers of different languages.
Also called contact language.
Origin of pidgin
First recorded in 1875-80; extracted from pidgin English
Can be confused
pidgin, pigeon. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pidgin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This is not Braithwaite's pidgin but Woodward's and there was no help for it.

  • Jabbering in frantic "pidgin," he proceeded to make front on the Dutchman.

    Motor Matt's Mystery Stanley R. Matthews
  • Soosie, he told in his pidgin English, had been given to him by her uncle.

    Tropic Days E. J. Banfield
  • I had a good one in the upper storey, or the "top-side," as it is expressed in "pidgin."

    Under the Dragon Flag

    James Allan
  • I was waited on mostly by a lad named Chung, one of the professors of "pidgin."

    Under the Dragon Flag

    James Allan
  • And I thought for once that her lapse into pidgin had been deliberate and not accidental.

    Tales of Chinatown Sax Rohmer
  • And John scarcely knew a word of English, not even the pidgin variety.

  • The word pidgin itself is derived through a series of changes in the word Business.

  • But at that moment a head was put out of the companion, and a voice called him in pidgin English to go down.

British Dictionary definitions for pidgin


a language made up of elements of two or more other languages and used for contacts, esp trading contacts, between the speakers of other languages. Unlike creoles, pidgins do not constitute the mother tongue of any speech community
Word Origin
C19: perhaps from Chinese pronunciation of English business
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 pidgin

1876, from pigeon English (1859), the reduced form of the language used in China for communication with Europeans, from pigeon (1826), itself a pidgin word, representing a Chinese pronunciation of business. Meaning extended 1891 to "any simplified language."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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