• synonyms


[bahy-ling-gwuh l or, Canadian, -ling-gyoo-uh l]
  1. able to speak two languages with the facility of a native speaker.
  2. spoken, written, or containing similar information in two different languages: a bilingual dictionary; Public notices at the embassy are bilingual.
  3. of, involving, or using two languages: a bilingual community; bilingual schools.
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  1. a bilingual person.
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Origin of bilingual

1835–45; < Latin bilingu(is) (bi- bi-1 + lingu-, stem of lingua tongue + -is adj. suffix) + -al1
Related formsbi·lin·gual·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bi-lingual

Historical Examples

  • Bi-lingual,” said the constable, with an air of importance.

    When William Came


  • They were bi-lingual, being in English and in coast Arabic, in which dialect Bones was something of a master.

  • These bi-lingual texts are an attempt to speed up Indian understanding of modern life.

  • The Navaho portions of later pamphlets in this bi-lingual series are the joint work of Harrington and Young.

  • In bi-lingual districts children's answers would have a special value.

British Dictionary definitions for bi-lingual


  1. able to speak two languages, esp with fluency
  2. written or expressed in two languages
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  1. a bilingual person
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Derived Formsbilingualism, nounbilingually, adverb
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 bi-lingual



1818, from bi- + lingual. Latin bilinguis meant literally "two-tongued," and, figuratively, "speaking a jumble of languages," also "double-tongued, hypocritical, false."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper