distinctive feature

noun Linguistics.
a feature of the sound system of a language that serves as the crucial distinguishing mark between two phonemes, as the distinctive feature of voicing, which distinguishes b from p in English, or nasality, which distinguishes m from b and p.
any of a set of phonetic properties, as coronal, nasal, or strident, serving as a basic unit of phonological analysis by which the sounds that are significant in a language can be characterized and distinguished from one another.
a component or phonetic feature characterizing a phoneme.


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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Example sentences
The distinctive feature of the poem is the beauty and vigour with which martial
  scenes are depicted.
The first endeavor of the psychiatrist is to characterize the symptom by some
  distinctive feature.
One distinctive feature of a college education is that you can't buy it.
Its distinctive feature is the way it organises the replies.
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