This article introduces and defines the notion lingua receptiva (LaRa) as a mode of multilingual communication in which interactants employ a language and/or a language variety different from their partner's and still understand each other without the help of any additional lingua franca. The quintessence of lingua receptiva is discussed in terms of pragmatic, psycholinguistic and language psychology approaches to multilingualism. Moreover, the occurrence of this mode is documented across various language families throughout time and in various discursive intercultures which it creates. Furthermore, three central characteristics are discussed, namely ideological barriers resulting in asymmetry, 'inference-making' mechanisms and the function of idiomatic expressions. Finally, lingua receptiva is compared to other multilingual modes, especially with English as lingua franca.