[ trahy-ling-gwuhlor, Canadian, -ling-gyoo-uhl ]


  1. using, speaking, or involving three languages.


/ traɪˈlɪŋɡwəl /


  1. able to speak three languages fluently
  2. expressed or written in three languages

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Derived Forms

  • triˈlingually, adverb
  • triˈlingualism, noun

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Other Words From

  • tri·lingual·ism noun
  • tri·lingual·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of trilingual1

1825–35; < Latin trilingu ( is ) triple-tongued + -al 1. See tri-, lingual

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Example Sentences

Trilingual, trī-ling′gwal, adj. consisting of three tongues or languages.

The next problem in the study of cuneiform was the decipherment of the second language in each of the trilingual groups.

He had copied two trilingual inscriptions, and recognized at once that he had three languages before him.

The only inscription at Wan that I could not copy was the trilingual tablet of Xerxes.

He wandered about Europe, became bilingual, if not trilingual (he was never quite happy in German speech or German philosophy).


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More About Trilingual

What does trilingual mean?

Trilingual is most commonly used to describe someone who can speak or understand three languages, especially with some level of fluency.

It can also be used to describe things that involve or that are written or spoken in three languages, as in These instructions are trilingual—they’re written in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

The similar terms bilingual and multilingual are used in the same way, with bilingual indicating two languages and multilingual indicating more than two and especially several languages.

The ability to speak three languages or the use of two languages is called trilingualism.

Example: Being trilingual is a great advantage for many job seekers.

Where does trilingual come from?

The first records of the word trilingual come from around the 1830s. It’s composed of tri-, meaning “three,” and lingual, which means “pertaining to languages.” Lingual shares a root with other language-related words, like linguistics and linguaphile.

Some people who are trilingual may be masters of all three of the languages they speak. But a person might be described—or describe themselves—as trilingual even if they’re not fluent in all three. Some people may be trilingual when they learn two languages in addition to their native language. Others may be able to speak two natives languages and another that they acquired later. A person might even be trilingual from a very young age. Countries are sometimes described as trilingual when they have three official or widely used languages.

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What are some other forms related to trilingual?

  • trilingually (adverb)
  • trilingualism (noun)

What are some synonyms for trilingual?

What are some words that share a root or word element with trilingual

What are some words that often get used in discussing trilingual?

How is trilingual used in real life?

Trilingual is most commonly used to describe people who speak three languages, but it’s also commonly used to describe other things written in or involving three languages.  



Try using trilingual!

Is trilingual used correctly in the following sentence?

In some places, the street signs are trilingual since there are three widely spoken languages.