Last modified on 17 February 2015, at 05:04




From tongue +‎ -age modelled after language; or a blend of tongue and language. Ironically, the "lang" part of language, derived from Latin lingua, means and is cognate to the word tongue.


tonguage (plural tonguages)

  1. Any activity involving the tongue; tonguing.
  2. (nonstandard, neologism) Language; spoken language, as opposed to other forms of language (body language, written language, etc.).
    • 1890, Samuel Butler, Essays on Life, Art, and Science:
      Whether the ideas underlying them are expressed and conveyed by eyeage or by tonguage is a detail that matters nothing.
    • 1956, Edward Elgar, Percy Marshall Young, Letters of Edward Elgar and other writings:
      I like the French now but can't get on with the Italian tonguage (good word).
    • 1961, India. Office of the Registrar General, Census of India, 1961: Maharashtra:
      In all the districts of Maharashtra except Aurangabad and Bhandara, the number of persons who returned Hindi as a subsidiary language outnumber those with Hindi as mother tonguage.
    • 1973, Howard Paul Becker, Howard Paul Becker, Man in reciprocity:
      We have a language of social relations, even though we're not thoroughly aware of it— but it isn't all "language" in the sense of "tonguage."