What would you call a world language in Italian?

Google definition: "a language known or spoken in many countries."

World languages are English, Spanish, French.

*There seems to be a second definition: "an artificial language for international use." But that is not what I mean.

I think that the one that I do NOT mean is this: lingua universale, lingua internazionale.

But I am looking for translation of the first meaning ("a language known or spoken in many countries.").

Thank you.

  • Just to understand better: why is it that lingua universale and lingua internazionale don't work for you?
    – DaG
    Oct 30, 2016 at 18:30
  • @DaG because I saw its definition on Google, according to what is written there they both refer to an artifitial language, like esperanto
    – cornejo
    Oct 30, 2016 at 18:38
  • 1
    Fine, thanks. Indeed, one would probably think of artificial languages, but not necessarily. Do you happen to remember where do these definitions come from? (Google itself is just a search engine, it refers you to dictionaries or other reference works.)
    – DaG
    Oct 30, 2016 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


I offer two possible ways of saying something close to what you are looking for.

One is lingua veicolare, a language used to work, teach, make business among people of different mother tongues, said especially, as you remark, of English, Spanish, French.

Slightly different is lingua franca, which originally referred to a specific mixed language used to communicate across the Mediterranean, and nowadays is used in general for a language more than a community understand and use to communicate, but mostly for pidgins, Creoles and so on.

  • Could I use: una lingua diffusa a livello mondiale?
    – cornejo
    Oct 30, 2016 at 18:55
  • Yes, that would be fine, @cornejo.
    – DaG
    Oct 30, 2016 at 22:20

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