multilingual

[ muhl-tee-ling-gwuhl, muhl-tahy- or, Canadian, -ling-gyoo-uhl ]
/ ˌmʌl tiˈlɪŋ gwəl, ˌmʌl taɪ- or, Canadian, -ˈlɪŋ gyu əl /

adjective

using or able to speak several or many languages with some facility.
spoken or written in several or many languages: a multilingual broadcast.
dealing with or involving several or many languages: a multilingual dictionary of business terms.

noun

a multilingual person.

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Origin of multilingual

First recorded in 1830–40; multi- + lingual

OTHER WORDS FROM multilingual

mul·ti·lin·gual·ly, adverbmul·ti·lin·gual·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does multilingual mean?

Multilingual is most commonly used to describe someone who can speak or understand multiple languages, especially someone who can speak several languages with some level of fluency.

It can also be used to describe things that involve or that are written or spoken in multiple languages, as in These instructions are multilingual—they’re written in seven different languages.

Someone who speaks two languages is multilingual, but the term is most often used to describe someone who speaks more than three languages, since the term bilingual is commonly used to describe someone who speaks two languages and trilingual is used to describe someone who speaks three.

The ability to speak multiple languages or the use of multiple languages is called multilingualism.

Example: Being multilingual is a great advantage when applying for international jobs.

Where does multilingual come from?

The first records of the word multilingual come from the 1830s. It’s composed of multi-, meaning “many” or “multiple,” and lingual, which means “pertaining to languages.” Lingual shares a root with other language-related words, like linguistics and linguaphile.

Some people who are multilingual may be masters of all the languages they speak. In this case, they’re often called polyglots. But a person might be described—or describe themselves—as multilingual even if they’re not fluent in all of the languages they can speak. Most multilingual people have differing levels of fluency for each language they know.

Countries are often described as multilingual when they have two or more official or widely used languages. India, for example, is one of the most multilingual countries, with more than 20 official languages and at least 100 others, as well as hundreds of dialects.

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What are some other forms related to multilingual?

  • multilingually (adverb)
  • multilingualism (noun)

What are some synonyms for multilingual?

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

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

How is multilingual used in real life?

Multilingual is most commonly used to describe people who speak more than three languages.

 

 

Try using multilingual!

Is multilingual used correctly in the following sentence?

In some places, the street signs are multilingual since there are multiple widely spoken languages.

Example sentences from the Web for multilingual

British Dictionary definitions for multilingual

multilingual
/ (ˌmʌltɪˈlɪŋɡwəl) /

adjective

able to speak more than two languages
written or expressed in more than two languagesCompare bilingual, monolingual
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