Word Smith: Vernacular

The standard use of the word vernacular is pretty straight forward: noun and adjective usage of words in context with everyday language. A vernacular, or vernacular language, is the speech variety used in everyday life by the general population in a geographical or social territory. The vernacular is contrasted with higher-prestige forms of language, such as national, literary, liturgical or scientific idioms or lingua franca used to facilitate communication across a large area. The vernacular is usually native and spoken informally rather than written, and seen as of lower status than more codified forms. It may vary from more prestigious speech varieties in different ways, in that the vernacular can be a distinct stylistic register, a regional dialect, a sociolect or an independent language.Such as the following [1]:


  1. The language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.

Example: “He wrote in the vernacular to reach a larger audience.”

synonyms: everyday language, spoken language, colloquial speech, native speech, conversational language, common parlance, nonstandard language, jargon, -speak, cant, slang, idiom, argot, patois, dialect


  1. Architecture concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings. Example: “…buildings in which Gothic merged into farmhouse vernacular.”


  1. (of language) spoken as one’s mother tongue; not learned or imposed as a second language.
  2. (of architecture) concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings.


Then in the New York Times the reference comes with the wording “Vernacular Cannabis Movement,” which is a new use altogether. Take a look at the use of the word these days as it is morphing in front of our eyes, ears and senses. [1]


[1]  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vernacular

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/14/magazine/cbd-cannabis-cure.html