A language of southern France, now often displaced by French. It is more commonly known as Provençal, but this is also used to mean the particular Occitan dialect of Provence, so the new term 'Occitan' has been devised for the whole language, covering most of the south of France.
Historically the language was known as Languedoc, but again it covers a much wider area than the region of Languedoc.
Both terms derive from oc 'yes'. The northern and southern languages were called the langue d'oïl and langue d'oc respectively from their two words for 'yes', the southern word from Latin hoc and the northern from hoc ille (roughly, 'that's so').
The northern language standardized on Francien, the dialect of the Ile de France, and became the national language when rule was centralized in Paris: their word oïl became modern oui.
Occitan was invigorated by the writings of Frédéric Mistral, one of the early Nobel Prize winners.
In the east of France, by the Swiss border, is a region where Franco-Provencal is spoken, which most linguists classify as another distinct language, intermediate between French and Occitan. There is no clear division between related languages like this: local dialects change continuously from one to the other. Occitan partly resembles North French, and partly Catalan over the Pyrenees in Spain.