) is a language of Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania, and the native language of the Wolof people.
Like the neighbouring languages Serer and Fula, it belongs to the Senegambian branch of the Niger–Congo language family.
Wolof dialects vary geographically and between rural and urban areas.
"Dakar-Wolof", for instance, is an urban mixture of Wolof, French, and Arabic.
"Wolof" is the standard spelling and may refer to the Wolof people or to Wolof culture.
Variants include the older French Ouolof and the principally Gambian "Wollof".
"Jolof", "jollof", etc., now typically refers either to the Jolof Empire or to jollof rice, a common West African rice dish. Wolof words in English are believed to include yum/yummy, from Wolof nyam "to taste"; Wolof is spoken by more than 10 million people and about 40 percent (approximately 5 million people) of Senegal's population speak Wolof as their native language.
Increased mobility, and especially the growth of the capital Dakar, created the need for a common language: today, an additional 40 percent of the population speak Wolof as a second or acquired language.
In the whole region from Dakar to Saint-Louis, and also west and southwest of Kaolack, Wolof is spoken by the vast majority of the people.
Typically when various ethnic groups in Senegal come together in cities and towns, they speak Wolof.
It is therefore spoken in almost every regional and departmental capital in Senegal.
Nevertheless, the official language of Senegal is French.
In the Gambia, about 20–25 percent of the population speak Wolof as a first language, but Wolof has a disproportionate influence because of its prevalence in Banjul, the Gambian capital, where 75 percent of the population use it as a first language.