The complete DnD languages 5e guide 2023

Discover all the many DnD languages that Dungeons and Dragons has to offer, and find out which 5e languages to pick during character creation.

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There are 16 DnD languages in the game’s fifth edition. Eight are considered ‘standard’ 5e languages, which you can expect to crop up regularly in the average campaign. The other eight are deemed ‘exotic’ languages, which are usually much rarer and more esoteric.

When playing, languages 5e can often fade into the background, especially if every NPC speaks fluent Common. But if used correctly, they can create plenty of interesting gameplay moments. Here, we’ll cover the full list of 5e languages, and explain how to use them in your Dungeons and Dragons games.

One of the first questions you’ll face when loading up your preferred DnD character creator is what DnD languages your character knows. For the most part, it’s down to personal choice and what you think will create good roleplay opportunities in your DnD campaign; there’s no mechanical benefits to knowing Dwarvish, for instance. When deciding on a 5e language, keep in mind what DnD races and DnD monsters you are likely to encounter, and try to pick languages to match.

Below you’ll find the full DnD languages list, containing every 5e language – from Elvish to Abyssal. And once you’ve chosen your preferred languages, we can help you choose from the many DnD classes and DnD backgrounds in 5e, too. 

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Standard DnD languages 5e

Commonly spoken in most settings

Language Main speakers Alphabet
Common Humans (and other races) Common
Dwarvish Dwarves Dwarvish
Elvish Elves Elvish
Giant Ogres, Giants Dwarvish
Gnomish Gnomes Dwarvish
Goblins Goblinoids Dwarvish
Halfling Halflings Common
Orc Orcs Dwarvish

The standard DnD languages may seem a bit less exciting, but in most DnD campaigns, they’re the most useful 5e languages to learn. Picking the native tongue of the DnD Halfling, or DnD Elf, the DnD Dwarf, or the DnD Gnome can be valuable, as these races will be found hanging out in most settlements you visit.

Common is a universal DnD language spoken by most races, and unless you specify otherwise, it’s usually the 5e language you’ll be assumed to be using. Being able to talk to everyone even if you don’t know their language is super useful, but it doesn’t render these standard DnD languages useless, provided you’re creative.

For instance, you might form bonds of kinship through a shared language, and you’ll also be able to overhear secret conversations or conduct private chats of your own. If you travel to settlements without humans, you’ll hear different DnD languages all the time – and having someone in the party who knows what’s being said may be vital.

If you pick the 5e language of DnD Goblins, Ogres, Giants, or Orcs, you’re more likely to make use of them during hostile encounters. Many creatures speaking these 5e languages will have evil DnD alignments. Still, if you know these languages you’ll be able to pick up orders barked out during a fight, or have an easier time conducting diplomacy.

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Exotic DnD languages 5e

DnD languages from far-off places

Language Main speakers Alphabet
Abyssal Demons Infernal
Celestial Celestials Celestial
Draconic Dragons, Dragonborn Draconic
 Infernal Devils Infernal
Deep Speech Mind Flayers, Beholders None
 Primordial Elementals Dwarvish
Sylvan Fey creatures Elvish
Undercommon Underworld traders Elvish

The Players’ Handbook suggests you should ask your DM for permission before you take an exotic DnD language. It’s hard to see why you’d be banned from picking one, but it probably is worthwhile having a quick discussion with your DM anyhow, for one simple reason.

Whereas an imaginative player will find opportunities to use the standard DnD languages in pretty much any game, the exotic DnD languages are a bit more all or nothing. Many of them are mainly spoken in particular far flung regions, or specific DnD planes.

If you’re not going to the Feywild, knowing Sylvan won’t be very helpful. If your adventures won’t take you on a road to heaven or hell, then Celestial or Infernal scripts aren’t likely to be useful – though the Tiefling 5e gets Infernal as a matter of course. And there’s not much point brushing up on your Undercommon and then never venturing underground.

On the other hand, if you are likely to get use out of them, exotic DnD languages become far more useful than the standard ones. With exotic languages, you’re far more likely to find situations where you’re the only one who can easily communicate. Common is less, er, common, in distant realms where humans seldom go.

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Other languages in 5e

Beyond the Player’s Handbook, other DnD books have introduced languages of their own. Some of these are used by rarer DnD races, or they’re found on entirely different planes and planets from Faerûn.

Here are some of the other languages you might encounter in 5e:

Language Main speakers Alphabet
Leonin Leonin of Theros Common
Kraul Kraul of Ravnica Kraul
Loxodon Loxodon of Ravnica Elvish
Merfolk Merfolk of Ravnica Merfolk
Sphinx Sphinxes of Ravnica
Vedalken Vedalken of Ravnica Vedalken
Riedran People of Sarlona (Ravnica) Common
Abanasinia Abanasinians of Krynn Common
Ergot Ergoth People of Krynn Common
Kharolian People from the Planes of Dust and Tarsis (Krynn) Common
Kenderspeak Kender of Krynn Common
Khur Khur of Krynn Istarian
Nordmaarian Noordmar People of Krynn Istarian
Solamnic Solamnian people of Krynn Common

That’s your complete guide to DnD languages all wrapped up. Need some more rules refreshers? We can teach you about everything from fall damage 5e to DnD conditions. We can also help you keep up with the latest Dungeons and Dragons products – just check out the DnD 2023 release schedule.