What does tongue mean?

Definitions for tongue

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word tongue.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. tongue, lingua, glossa, clappernoun

    a mobile mass of muscular tissue covered with mucous membrane and located in the oral cavity

  2. natural language, tonguenoun

    a human written or spoken language used by a community; opposed to e.g. a computer language

  3. tongue, knifenoun

    any long thin projection that is transient

    "tongues of flame licked at the walls"; "rifles exploded quick knives of fire into the dark"

  4. tonguenoun

    a manner of speaking

    "he spoke with a thick tongue"; "she has a glib tongue"

  5. spit, tonguenoun

    a narrow strip of land that juts out into the sea

  6. tonguenoun

    the tongue of certain animals used as meat

  7. tonguenoun

    the flap of material under the laces of a shoe or boot

  8. clapper, tongueverb

    metal striker that hangs inside a bell and makes a sound by hitting the side

  9. tongueverb

    articulate by tonguing, as when playing wind instruments

  10. tongueverb

    lick or explore with the tongue


  1. tonguenoun

    The flexible muscular organ in the mouth that is used to move food around, for tasting and that is moved into various positions to modify the flow of air from the lungs in order to produce different sounds in speech.

  2. tonguenoun

    A language.

    He was speaking in his native tongue.

  3. tonguenoun


  4. tonguenoun

    In a shoe, the flap of material that goes between the laces and the foot, so called because it resembles a tongue in the mouth.

  5. tonguenoun

    Any large or long physical protrusion on an automotive, a machine part or any other part that fits into a long groove on another part.

  6. tonguenoun

    An individual point of flame from a fire.

  7. tongueverb

    On a wind instrument, to articulate a note by starting the air with a tap of the tongue, as though by speaking a 'd' or 't' sound (alveolar plosive).

  8. tongueverb

    to kiss involving the touching of both tongues, and/or licking.

  9. tongueverb

    To manipulate with the tongue.

    Playing wind instruments involves tonguing on the reed or mouthpiece.

  10. Etymology: From tonge, tunge, tung, from tunge, from tungōn (compare Dutch tong, German Zunge, Swedish tunga), from dn̥ǵʰwéh₂s (compare Irish teanga, Latin lingua, Tocharian A/B känt/kantwo, Lithuanian liežùvis, Polish język 'language, tongue', Armenian լեզու, Sanskrit जिह्वा).

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Tonguenoun

    Etymology: tung , Saxon; tonghe, Dutch.

    My conscience hath a thousand several tongue,
    And ev’ry tongue brings in a sev’ral tale,
    And ev’ry tale condemns me for a villain. William Shakespeare.

    Who with the tongue of angels can relate. John Milton.

    The terror of thy power or potent tongue. John Milton.

    They are tongue-valiant, and as bold as Hercules where there’s no danger. Roger L'Estrange, Fables.

    My ears still ring with noise, I’m vext to death,
    Tongue kill’d, and have not yet recover’d breath. Dryden.

    Tongue-valiant hero, vaunter of thy might,
    In threats the foremost; but the lag in fight. Dryden.

    There have been female Pythagoreans, notwithstanding that philosophy consisted in keeping a secret, and the disciple was to hold her tongue five years together. Joseph Addison, Guard.

    I should make but a poor pretence to true learning, if I had not clear ideas under the words my tongue could pronounce. Isaac Watts, Improvement of the Mind, p. i.

    Hiss for hiss returned with forked tongue
    To forked tongue. John Milton.

    Tongue-doughty giant, how dost thou prove? John Milton.

    Much tongue and much judgment seldom go together; for talking and thinking are too quite differing faculties. Roger L'Estrange.

    Parrots, imitating human tongue,
    And singing-birds in silver cages hung. Dryden.

    First in the council-hall to steer the state,
    And ever foremost in a tongue debate. John Dryden, Æn.

    Though they have those sounds ready at their tongue’s end, yet there are no determined ideas. John Locke.

    Give me thy hand; I am sorry I beat thee: but, while thou liv’st, keep a good tongue in thy head. William Shakespeare.

    On evil days though fallen and evil tongues. John Milton.

    The Lord shall bring a nation against thee, whose tongue thou shalt not understand. Deut. xxvii. 49.

    With wond’rous gifts endu’d,
    To speak all tongues and do all miracles. John Milton.

    An acquaintance with the various tongues is nothing but a relief against the mischiefs which the building of Babel introduced. Isaac Watts.

    Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John iii. 18.

    The Lord shall destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea. Isa.

    ’Tis seldom seen that senators so young
    Know when to speak, and when to hold their tongue. Dryd.

    Whilst I live I must not hold my tongue,
    And languish out old age in his displeasure. Addison.

  2. To Tongueverb

    To chide; to scold.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    But that her tender shame
    Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
    How might she tongue me. William Shakespeare, Meas. for Measure.

  3. To Tongueverb

    To talk; to prate.

    ’Tis still a dream; or else such stuff, as madmen
    Tongue, and brain not. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.


  1. Tongue

    The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth of a typical tetrapod. It manipulates food for mastication and swallowing as part of the digestive process, and is the primary organ of taste. The tongue's upper surface (dorsum) is covered by taste buds housed in numerous lingual papillae. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva and is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning the teeth. A major function of the tongue is the enabling of speech in humans and vocalization in other animals. The human tongue is divided into two parts, an oral part at the front and a pharyngeal part at the back. The left and right sides are also separated along most of its length by a vertical section of fibrous tissue (the lingual septum) that results in a groove, the median sulcus, on the tongue's surface. There are two groups of muscles of the tongue. The four intrinsic muscles alter the shape of the tongue and are not attached to bone. The four paired extrinsic muscles change the position of the tongue and are anchored to bone.


  1. tongue

    A tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth of most vertebrates that manipulates food for chewing and swallowing. It also plays a crucial role in speech for many species, including humans, helping to create specific sounds. The tongue also houses taste buds that enable the sensation of taste.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Tonguenoun

    an organ situated in the floor of the mouth of most vertebrates and connected with the hyoid arch

  2. Tonguenoun

    the power of articulate utterance; speech

  3. Tonguenoun

    discourse; fluency of speech or expression

  4. Tonguenoun

    honorable discourse; eulogy

  5. Tonguenoun

    a language; the whole sum of words used by a particular nation; as, the English tongue

  6. Tonguenoun

    speech; words or declarations only; -- opposed to thoughts or actions

  7. Tonguenoun

    a people having a distinct language

  8. Tonguenoun

    the lingual ribbon, or odontophore, of a mollusk

  9. Tonguenoun

    the proboscis of a moth or a butterfly

  10. Tonguenoun

    the lingua of an insect

  11. Tonguenoun

    any small sole

  12. Tonguenoun

    that which is considered as resembing an animal's tongue, in position or form

  13. Tonguenoun

    a projection, or slender appendage or fixture; as, the tongue of a buckle, or of a balance

  14. Tonguenoun

    a projection on the side, as of a board, which fits into a groove

  15. Tonguenoun

    a point, or long, narrow strip of land, projecting from the mainland into a sea or a lake

  16. Tonguenoun

    the pole of a vehicle; especially, the pole of an ox cart, to the end of which the oxen are yoked

  17. Tonguenoun

    the clapper of a bell

  18. Tonguenoun

    a short piece of rope spliced into the upper part of standing backstays, etc.; also. the upper main piece of a mast composed of several pieces

  19. Tonguenoun

    same as Reed, n., 5

  20. Tongueverb

    to speak; to utter

  21. Tongueverb

    to chide; to scold

  22. Tongueverb

    to modulate or modify with the tongue, as notes, in playing the flute and some other wind instruments

  23. Tongueverb

    to join means of a tongue and grove; as, to tongue boards together

  24. Tongueverb

    to talk; to prate

  25. Tongueverb

    to use the tongue in forming the notes, as in playing the flute and some other wind instruments


  1. Tongue

    The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. It is the primary organ of taste, as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. In humans a secondary function of the tongue is phonetic articulation. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning one's teeth. The ability to perceive different tastes is not localised in different parts of the tongue, as is widely believed. This error arose because of misinterpretation of some 19th-century research.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Tongue

    tung, n. the fleshy organ in the mouth, used in tasting, swallowing, and speech: power of speech: manner of speaking: speech: discourse: a language: anything like a tongue in shape: the catch of a buckle: the pointer of a balance: a point of land.—adjs. Tongued, having a tongue.; Tongue′less, having no tongue.—n. Tongue′let, a little tongue.—p.adj. Tongue′-shaped, shaped like a tongue: (bot.) linear and fleshy and blunt at the point, as a leaf.—n. Tongue′ster, a babbler.—adjs. Tongue′-tied, -tacked, having an impediment, as if the tongue were tied: unable to speak freely.—n. Tongue′-work, babble, chatter.—Hold one's tongue (see Hold). [A.S. tunge; Ice. tunga, Ger. zunge, the tongue; L. lingua (old form dingua).]

The Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz


    An unruly member that is frequently put out, yet an artist who's a hard worker at the palate and a great wag among women.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. tongue

    [Anglo-Saxon tunga]. The long tapered end of one piece of timber made to fay into a scarph at the end of another piece, to gain length. Also, a low salient point of land. Also, a dangerous mass of ice projecting under water from an iceberg or floe, nearly horizontally; it was on one of these shelves that the Guardian frigate struck.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. tongue

    The pole of an ox-cart (local).

Editors Contribution

  1. tongue

    A type of organ.

    Every human being and animal has a tongue.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 18, 2020  


  1. Tongue

    an indefinite term, applied usually to the coiled mouth structure of Lepidoptera; the lapping organ of flies; the ligula of bees and wasps and, sometimes also to the hypopharynx of other insects.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Tongue is ranked #38902 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Tongue surname appeared 567 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Tongue.

    66.4% or 377 total occurrences were White.
    30.3% or 172 total occurrences were Black.
    1.9% or 11 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1% or 6 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'tongue' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3897

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'tongue' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4325

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'tongue' in Nouns Frequency: #1451

How to pronounce tongue?

How to say tongue in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of tongue in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of tongue in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of tongue in a Sentence

  1. Tyron Edwards:

    The slanderer and the assassin differ only in the weapon they use; with the one it is the dagger, with the other the tongue. The former is worse that the latter, for the last only kills the body, while the other murders the reputation.

  2. Mark Harris:

    You can not be in that land, as powerful and as moving as it is, without realizing the incredible tension that is constantly in that land between the Palestinians and the Jews, there will never be peace in Jerusalem until the day comes that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ.

  3. Raj Dasgupta:

    What are going to be things that could block or clog or upper airways ? It's going to be the tonsils, the uvula, the soft palate and the tongue.

  4. Dalai Lama:

    And suck my tongue.

  5. Photographer Daniel Kariko:

    It's a fun project, most of all, they're meant to be sort of tongue in cheek.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for tongue

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"tongue." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/tongue>.

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    the act of passing from one state or place to the next
    A accessory
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