January 10, 2012
bilingual (adjective)
\bye-LING-gwul\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : of, expressed in, or using two languages2 : able to use two languages especially with fluency
How do you use it?
Aunt Beatriz and Uncle Carlos spoke both English and Spanish when their children were growing up and now our cousins are bilingual.
Are you a word wiz?

"Bilingual" comes from the Latin "bilinguis," a combination of "bi-," meaning "two," and "lingua." What do you think the Latin word "lingua" means?

If B is on the tip of your tongue, then speak up! The Latin root "lingua" means "tongue," and when combined with "bi-" it forms the Latin "bilinguis." In the early 1800s English speakers borrowed "bilinguis" as "bilingual" and used it to describe someone able to speak two languages or something expressed in two languages. Other words in the "lingua" family include "language," "lingo," referring to strange or hard to understand language, and "linguist," which is someone skilled in languages or a person who specializes in linguistics, the study of human speech.
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