View synonyms for tongue


[ tuhng ]


  1. Anatomy. the usually movable organ in the floor of the mouth in humans and most vertebrates, functioning in eating, in tasting, and, in humans, in speaking.
  2. Zoology. an analogous organ in invertebrate animals.
  3. the tongue of an animal, as an ox, beef, or sheep, used for food, often prepared by smoking or pickling.
  4. the human tongue as the organ of speech:

    No tongue must ever tell the secret.

  5. the faculty or power of speech:

    a sight no tongue can describe.

  6. speech or talk, especially mere glib or empty talk.
  7. manner or character of speech:

    a flattering tongue.

  8. the language of a particular people, region, or nation:

    the Hebrew tongue.

  9. a dialect.
  10. (in the Bible) a people or nation distinguished by its language.
  11. tongues, speech, often incomprehensible, typically uttered during moments of religious ecstasy. Compare speaking in tongues, glossolalia.
  12. an object that resembles an animal's tongue in shape, position, or function.
  13. a strip of leather or other material under the lacing or fastening of a shoe.
  14. a piece of metal suspended inside a bell that strikes against the side producing a sound; clapper.
  15. a vibrating reed or similar structure in a musical instrument, as in a clarinet, or in part of a musical instrument, as in an organ reed pipe.
  16. the pole extending from a carriage or other vehicle between the animals drawing it.
  17. a projecting strip along the center of the edge or end of a board, for fitting into a groove in another board.
  18. a narrow strip of land extending into a body of water; cape.
  19. a section of ice projecting outward from the submerged part of an iceberg.
  20. Machinery. a long, narrow projection on a machine.
  21. that part of a railroad switch that is shifted to direct the wheels of a locomotive or car to one or the other track of a railroad.
  22. the pin of a buckle, brooch, etc.

verb (used with object)

, tongued, tongu·ing.
  1. to articulate (tones played on a clarinet, trumpet, etc.) by strokes of the tongue.
  2. Carpentry.
    1. to cut a tongue on (a board).
    2. to join or fit together by a tongue-and-groove joint.
  3. to touch with the tongue.
  4. to articulate or pronounce.
  5. Archaic.
    1. to reproach or scold.
    2. to speak or utter.

verb (used without object)

, tongued, tongu·ing.
  1. to tongue tones played on a clarinet, trumpet, etc.
  2. to talk, especially idly or foolishly; chatter; prate.
  3. to project like a tongue.


/ tʌŋ /


  1. a movable mass of muscular tissue attached to the floor of the mouth in most vertebrates. It is the organ of taste and aids the mastication and swallowing of food. In man it plays an important part in the articulation of speech sounds glotticlingual
  2. an analogous organ in invertebrates
  3. the tongue of certain animals used as food
  4. a language, dialect, or idiom

    the English tongue

  5. the ability to speak

    to lose one's tongue

  6. a manner of speaking

    a glib tongue

  7. utterance or voice (esp in the phrase give tongue )
  8. plural See gift of tongues
  9. anything which resembles a tongue in shape or function

    a tongue of flame

    a tongue of the sea

  10. a promontory or spit of land
  11. a flap of leather on a shoe, either for decoration or under the laces or buckles to protect the instep
  12. music the reed of an oboe or similar instrument
  13. the clapper of a bell
  14. the harnessing pole of a horse-drawn vehicle
  15. a long and narrow projection on a machine or structural part that serves as a guide for assembly or as a securing device
  16. a projecting strip along an edge of a board that is made to fit a corresponding groove in the edge of another board
  17. hold one's tongue
    to keep quiet
  18. on the tip of one's tongue
    about to come to mind

    her name was on the tip of his tongue

  19. with one's tongue in one's cheek or tongue in cheek
    with insincere or ironical intent


  1. to articulate (notes played on a wind instrument) by the process of tonguing
  2. tr to lick, feel, or touch with the tongue
  3. tr carpentry to provide (a board) with a tongue
  4. intr (of a piece of land) to project into a body of water
  5. obsolete.
    tr to reproach; scold


/ tŭng /

  1. A muscular organ in most vertebrates that is usually attached to the bottom of the mouth. In snakes, the tongue is used as a sense organ. In frogs, the tongue is chiefly used to capture prey. In mammals, the tongue is the main organ of taste and is an important organ of digestion. In humans, the tongue is used to produce speech.
  2. A similar organ in certain invertebrate animals.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈtongueˌlike, adjective
  • ˈtongueless, adjective

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Other Words From

  • tongueless adjective
  • tonguelike adjective
  • outtongue verb (used with object) outtongued outtonguing
  • un·tongued adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tongue1

before 900; (noun) Middle English tunge, Old English; cognate with Dutch tong, German Zunge, Old Norse tunga, Gothic tuggo; akin to Latin lingua (OL dingua ); (v.) Middle English tungen to scold, derivative of the noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tongue1

Old English tunge; related to Old Saxon, Old Norse tunga, Old High German zunga, Latin lingua

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. (with) tongue in cheek, ironically or mockingly; insincerely.
  2. find one's tongue, to regain one's powers of speech; recover one's poise:

    She wanted to say something, but couldn't find her tongue.

  3. give tongue,
    1. Fox Hunting. (of a hound) to bay while following a scent.
    2. to utter one's thoughts; speak:

      He wouldn't give tongue to his suspicions.

  4. hold one's tongue, to refrain from or cease speaking; keep silent.
  5. lose one's tongue, to lose the power of speech, especially temporarily.
  6. on the tip of one's / the tongue,
    1. on the verge of being uttered.
    2. unable to be recalled; barely escaping one's memory:

      The answer was on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn't think of it.

  7. slip of the tongue, a mistake in speaking, as an inadvertent remark.

More idioms and phrases containing tongue

  • bite one's tongue
  • cat got someone's tongue
  • hold one's tongue
  • keep a civil tongue
  • on the tip of one's tongue
  • slip of the lip (tongue)

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Example Sentences

The budding naturalist soon learned to identify plants by feel, touching their hairs with his lower lip and their stamens and pistils with his tongue.

Students and workers with no symptoms might start swabbing their noses or tongues every few days to make sure they haven’t been exposed.

On a windy winter afternoon, Raluca Mateescu leaned against a fence post at the University of Florida’s Beef Teaching Unit while a Brahman heifer sniffed inquisitively at the air and reached out its tongue in search of unseen food.

As you write, “Economics is the mother tongue of public policy.”

So she pumped the samples onto the tongue and allowed it to roll right off.

After the release of the trailer for the special last week, TLC received a requisite and perhaps well-deserved tongue-lashing.

Abramson, biting her tongue, was widely portrayed in rival outlets as classily above the fray.

The second is strangled tongue disease, the English inability to express real feelings in conversation.

Language was no barrier; just about every tongue on the planet was babbling away, caught up in the elaborate mystique of a cult.

Sata, who was known as King Cobra because of his sharp tongue, was thought to have been seriously ill for some time.

“Perhaps you do not speak my language,” she said in Urdu, the tongue most frequently heard in Upper India.

Now first we shall want our pupil to understand, speak, read and write the mother tongue well.

The flute and the psaltery make a sweet melody, but a pleasant tongue is above them both.

Each sentence came as if torn piecemeal from his unwilling tongue; short, jerky phrases, conceived in pain and delivered in agony.

If she have a tongue that can cure, and likewise mitigate and shew mercy: her husband is not like other men.


Related Words

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How Do You Spell Tounge?

Spelling tips for tongue

The word tongue is so commonly misspelled as tounge that we’ve left it that way in the heading above so that this answer will be easier to find! Many people often misspell it this way (by placing the u after the o instead of after the g) because of how it is pronounced: [ tuhng ].

How to spell tongue: To remember how to spell tongue, keep in mind the phrase “My tongue felt a ton of fatigue.” This indicates that the first syllable of tongue is spelled ton, and the second syllable is spelled -gue like the end of fatigue

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




tongstongue-and-groove joint