[ tel-uh-goo ]
/ ˈtɛl əˌgu /
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noun, plural Tel·u·gus, (especially collectively) Tel·u·gu.
a Dravidian language spoken mainly in Andhra Pradesh state, SE India.
a member of the people speaking this language.
of Telugu or the Telugu.
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Also Telegu.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does Telugu mean?

Telugu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in the state of Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India.

Telugu also refers to the speakers of this language.

India is a large country located in southern Asia, and Andhra Pradesh is one of its 25 states. The Dravidian family of languages includes many of the languages spoken in Southern India and the country of Sri Lanka, including Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam.

According to the 2011 Census of India, there were over 81 million speakers of Telugu. At that time, it was the fourth most popular language in India, with 6.7 percent of the population speaking it. Telugu is the official language of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Spoken Telugu has several different regional dialects, which depend on a person’s geographic area, class, and caste. Written Telugu is more uniform and, like other Dravidian languages, is based on the Brahmi script rather than ancient Sanskrit.

Telugu is written from left to right, and its alphabet currently consists of 60 symbols, including 16 vowels and 41 consonants.

Why is Telugu important?

The first records of the term Telugu come from around 1731. The exact origin of the word Telugu is not known, but it is commonly thought to come from the Sanskrit word Trilingas, meaning “the country of the three lingas.” Lingas supposedly refers to the large mountains that marked the border of the ancient country of the Telugu people. Telugu is the name that speakers of the language use to refer to the language itself.

The first records of an ancient version of Telugu date back to 575. The modern version of Telugu emerged in the 1000s with a translation of the Mahabharata by the poet Nannaya Bhatta.

Like much of India, the area that is now Andhra Pradesh was ruled by a variety of people of different cultures throughout its history. This can be seen today by the various dialects of Telugu that borrow words from Hindi, Urdu, and English.

Did you know … ?

The English word bandicoot comes from the Telugu word pandi-kokku, meaning “pig-rat.” Bandicoot rats are native to southeast India.

What are real-life examples of Telugu?

As you might expect, a person of Indian heritage or who is knowledgeable about India is more likely to be familiar with the Telugu language.  

What other words are related to Telugu?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Telugu is a language mainly spoken in the northeastern part of India.

How to use Telugu in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Telugu



/ (ˈtɛləˌɡuː) /

a language of SE India, belonging to the Dravidian family of languages: the state language of Andhra Pradesh
plural -gus or -gu a member of the people who speak this language
of or relating to this people or their language
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