approximant

approximant

[uh-prok-suh-muhnt]
noun Phonetics.
1.
an articulation in which one articulator is close to another, but not sufficiently so to form a stop or a fricative.
2.
a sound characterized by such an articulation, as (w), (y), (r), (l), or a vowel.

Origin:
approxim(ate) + -ant

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

approximant

in phonetics, a sound that is produced by bringing one articulator in the vocal tract close to another without, however, causing audible friction (see fricative). Approximants include semivowels, such as the y sound in "yes" or the w sound in "war."

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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