[ kuh-loh-kwee-uhl ]
See synonyms for colloquial on
  1. characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing; informal.

  2. involving or using conversation.

Origin of colloquial

First recorded in 1745–55; colloquy + -al1

synonym study For colloquial

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.

Opposites for colloquial

Other words from colloquial

  • col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverb
  • col·lo·qui·al·ness, col·lo·qui·al·i·ty, noun
  • qua·si-col·lo·qui·al, adjective
  • qua·si-col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverb
  • sem·i·col·lo·qui·al, adjective
  • sem·i·col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverb
  • un·col·lo·qui·al, adjective
  • un·col·lo·qui·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use colloquial in a sentence

  • In the United States it is colloquially applied to legislators who practise obstruction.

  • She was permitted only one, being of the age when fruit caused her, colloquially speaking, to "break out."

    Long Live the King | Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • All People's, as the church was colloquially named, was one of the most popular places of worship in the city.

    The Long Day | Dorothy Richardson
  • Now it is colloquially known as the "stone house," and has for sixty years been the home of the Owen King family.

    Down the Mother Lode | Vivia Hemphill
  • The minister remembered a stray hint somewhere that Mr. Gorringe was a money-lender—what was colloquially called a "note-shaver."

British Dictionary definitions for colloquial


/ (kəˈləʊkwɪəl) /

  1. of or relating to conversation

  2. denoting or characterized by informal or conversational idiom or vocabulary: Compare informal

Derived forms of colloquial

  • 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