Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

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


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.

Origin of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

First recorded in 1950–55

Also called Whorfian hypothesis. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for sapir-whorf hypothesis

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis


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