Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

[ suh-peer-hwawrf, -hwohrf, -wawrf, -wohrf ]
/ səˈpɪərˈʰwɔrf, -ˈʰwoʊrf, -ˈwɔrf, -ˈwoʊrf /

noun

a theory developed by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf that states that the structure of a language determines or greatly influences the modes of thought and behavior characteristic of the culture in which it is spoken.

QUIZZES

DO YOU KNOW THIS VOCABULARY FROM "THE HANDMAID'S TALE"?

"The Handmaid's Tale" was required reading for many of us in school. Everyone else has probably watched the very popular and addictive TV show. Do you remember this vocabulary from the book, and do you know what these terms mean?
Question 1 of 10
decorum
Also called Whorfian hypothesis.

Origin of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

First recorded in 1950–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for sapir-whorf hypothesis

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

noun

the theory that human languages determine the structure of the real world as perceived by human beings, rather than vice versa, and that this structure is different and incommensurable from one language to another

Word Origin for Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

named after Edward Sapir (1884–1939), US anthropologist and linguist, and Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897–1943), US linguist
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