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 formscol·lo·qui·al·ly, adverbcol·lo·qui·al·ness, col·lo·qui·al·i·ty, nounqua·si-col·lo·qui·al, adjectivequa·si-col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverbsem·i·col·lo·qui·al, adjectivesem·i·col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverbun·col·lo·qui·al, adjectiveun·col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverb

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.

Antonyms for colloquial

1. formal. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for colloquial

Contemporary Examples of colloquial

Historical Examples of colloquial

  • Colloquial exaggerated turn of phrase; almost "you could wipe them off the earth."



  • 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 vocabularyCompare informal
Derived Formscolloquially, adverbcolloquialness, 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

Word Origin and History for colloquial

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper