[ mon-uh-ling-gwuhl or, Canadian, -ling-gyoo-uhl ]
/ ˌmɒn əˈlɪŋ gwəl or, Canadian, -ˈlɪŋ gyu əl /
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knowing or able to use only one language; monoglot.
spoken or written in only one language.
a monolingual person.
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Origin of monolingual

First recorded in 1950–55; mono- + lingual

OTHER WORDS FROM monolingual

mon·o·lin·gual·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does monolingual mean?

Monolingual is used to describe someone who can speak or understand only one language.

It can also mean written in, spoken in, or involving only one language.

Monolingual is often used in contrast with terms like bilingual (able to speak two languages), trilingual (able to speak three languages), and multilingual (able to speak more than two and especially several languages).

The ability to speak or understand only one language or the regular use of only one language is called monolingualism.

Example: One of my great regrets is being monolingual and not learning another language when I was younger.

Where does monolingual come from?

The word monolingual is composed of mono-, meaning “one” or “single,” and lingual, which means “pertaining to languages.” Lingual shares a root with other language-related words, like linguistics and linguaphile.

Monolingual is usually used in a context that contrasts speaking only one language with speaking two or more. In education, monolingual instruction may be contrasted with bilingual or multilingual instruction. Similarly, linguists may study the benefits of raising a child in a bilingual environment as opposed to a monolingual one. To become bilingual, you don’t necessarily need to master a second language. A person might be described—or describe themselves—as bilingual even if they’re not fluent in the second language.

A country may be described as monolingual if it has only one official or widely used language.

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What are some other forms related to monolingual?

  • monolingually (adverb)
  • monolingualism (noun)

What are some synonyms for monolingual?

What are some words that share a root or word element with monolingual

What are some words that often get used in discussing monolingual?

How is monolingual used in real life?

Monolingual is often used in contrast with terms like bilingual and multilingual.



Try using monolingual!

Is monolingual used correctly in the following sentence?

Instructions used to be monolingual, but now they usually come in several languages.

How to use monolingual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for monolingual

/ (ˌmɒnəʊˈlɪŋɡwəl) /

knowing or expressed in only one language
a monolingual person
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