MooT Question Icon
It means "rough speech" in French, and it denotes the dialect of a region's common people as opposed to the dialect of its upper classes. What word is it?

Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.

A picture of a moot game

The critically-acclaimed board game MooT
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
To join our mailing list and get
free brain-twisting MooT questions sent to you irregularly,
enter your email address and then press submit.

E-Mail address:

Back to home page

Answer: patois

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: "French scholars distinguish dialects as the particular forms presented by a language in different regions, so long as there does not exist a common written language. When a common language has become established as the medium of general literature, the dialects lose their literary standing and become patois."


Does the word vernacular mean the same as patois?

[Mootguy: Any language that is particular to a place is that place's vernacular, so a patois is, thus, a type of vernacular.]

If you want to explore the distinction between patois, argot, vernacular, lingua franca, etc., check out the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology at:
easchoeman at

If you meet people who have emigrated from Jamaica or other places in the West Indies, they will tell you that they speak " Patois" which is a unique combination of English and other languages with lots of abbreviated words and a lilting pronunciation. It's a kind of short hand. In other countries it is called Creole. In the Cape Verde Islands it is called Crio.
alictwomb at

Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.