[pij-uh n]


an auxiliary language that has come into existence through the attempts by the speakers of two different languages to communicate and that is primarily a simplified form of one of the languages, with a reduced vocabulary and grammatical structure and considerable variation in pronunciation.
(loosely) any simplified or broken form of a language, especially when used for communication between speakers of different languages.

Origin of pidgin

First recorded in 1875–80; extracted from pidgin English
Also called contact language.
Can be confusedpidgin pigeon Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pidgin

Contemporary Examples of pidgin

Historical Examples of pidgin

  • This is not Braithwaite's pidgin but Woodward's and there was no help for it.

  • Jabbering in frantic "pidgin," he proceeded to make front on the Dutchman.

    Motor Matt's Mystery

    Stanley R. Matthews

  • Soosie, he told in his pidgin English, had been given to him by her uncle.

    Tropic Days

    E. J. Banfield

  • I had a good one in the upper storey, or the "top-side," as it is expressed in "pidgin."

  • I was waited on mostly by a lad named Chung, one of the professors of "pidgin."

British Dictionary definitions for pidgin



a language made up of elements of two or more other languages and used for contacts, esp trading contacts, between the speakers of other languages. Unlike creoles, pidgins do not constitute the mother tongue of any speech community

Word Origin for pidgin

C19: perhaps from Chinese pronunciation of English business
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 pidgin

1876, from pigeon English (1859), the reduced form of the language used in China for communication with Europeans, from pigeon (1826), itself a pidgin word, representing a Chinese pronunciation of business. Meaning extended 1891 to "any simplified language."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper