Bilingual is an adjective that describes a person or community that speaks two languages. A bilingual woman might speak Spanish and English, and a part of town where people speak Mandarin and Polish is a bilingual neighborhood.

The prefix bi- means “having two,” and the Latin word lingua means “tongue, language,” so bilingual literally means “having two tongues.” It would be a mouthful to have two physical tongues, but luckily bilingual is for language tongues: the ability to speak two languages fluently. Bilingual is also a noun, and a person can be called a bilingual, like in the African country Chad, where the official languages are French and Arabic, and where many of the citizens are bilinguals.

Definitions of bilingual
  1. adjective
    using or knowing two languages
    bilingual education”
    using or knowing more than one language
  2. noun
    a person who speaks two languages fluently
    synonyms: bilingualist
    see moresee less
    type of:
    linguist, polyglot
    a person who speaks more than one language
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