- n. & v.
1 the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth used in tasting, licking, and swallowing, and (in man) for speech.
2 the tongue of an ox etc. as food.
3 the faculty of or a tendency in speech (a sharp tongue).
4 a particular language (the German tongue).
5 a thing like a tongue in shape or position, esp.: a a long low promontory. b a strip of leather etc., attached at one end only, under the laces in a shoe. c the clapper of a bell. d the pin of a buckle. e the projecting strip on a wooden etc. board fitting into the groove of another. f a vibrating slip in the reed of some musical instruments. g a jet of flame.
—v. (tongues, tongued, tonguing)
1 tr. produce staccato etc. effects with (a flute etc.) by means of tonguing.
2 intr. use the tongue in this way.
Phrases and idioms:
find (or lose) one's tongue be able (or unable) to express oneself after a shock etc. the gift of tongues the power of speaking in unknown languages, regarded as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). keep a civil tongue in one's head avoid rudeness. tongue-and-groove applied to boards in which a tongue along one edge fits into a groove along the edge of the next, each board having a tongue on one edge and a groove on the other. tongue-in-cheek adj. ironic; slyly humorous.
—adv. insincerely or ironically. tongue-lashing a severe scolding or reprimand. tongue-tie a speech impediment due to a malformation of the tongue. tongue-tied
1 too shy or embarrassed to speak.
2 having a tongue-tie. tongue-twister a sequence of words difficult to pronounce quickly and correctly. with one's tongue hanging out eagerly or expectantly. with one's tongue in one's cheek insincerely or ironically.
tongued adj. (also in comb.). tongueless adj.
Etymology: OE tunge f. Gmc, rel. to L lingua
Useful english dictionary. 2012.