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[fuh-net-ik, foh-] /fəˈnɛt ɪk, foʊ-/
Also, phonetical. of or relating to speech sounds, their production, or their transcription in written symbols.
corresponding to pronunciation:
phonetic transcription.
agreeing with pronunciation:
phonetic spelling.
concerning or involving the discrimination of nondistinctive elements of a language. In English, certain phonological features, as length and aspiration, are phonetic but not phonemic.
(in Chinese writing) a written element that represents a sound and is used in combination with a radical to form a character.
Origin of phonetic
1820-30; < New Latin phōnēticus < Greek phōnētikós vocal, equivalent to phōnēt(ós) to be spoken (verbid of phōneîn to speak) + -ikos -ic
Related forms
phonetically, adverb
nonphonetic, adjective
nonphonetical, adjective
nonphonetically, adverb
unphonetic, adjective
unphonetical, adjective
unphonetically, adverb
Can be confused
fanatic, phonetic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for phonetic
  • At the core of speech recognition lies the phoneme, which is the basic phonetic building block.
  • The method, which uses a phonetic approach, is described as a language-arts program.
  • Most secondary-school pupils have their own mobile telephones, and they use an abbreviated phonetic language to communicate.
  • The top one shows how it is normally written in the phonetic hiragana style.
  • The current professional basketball season has challenged the phonetic abilities of fans and broadcasters alike.
  • There's a reason other languages use a phonetic alphabet.
  • Share with students the following phonetic spellings.
  • Many people of my age are reluctant to use the abbreviations or phonetic spelling that texting requires.
  • phonetic scraps and prevailingly low dynamic levels were all that were needed to evoke a suitably tenebrous atmosphere.
  • The evidence shows that this phonetic language is learnable within one year.
British Dictionary definitions for phonetic


of or relating to phonetics
denoting any perceptible distinction between one speech sound and another, irrespective of whether the sounds are phonemes or allophones Compare phonemic (sense 2)
conforming to pronunciation: phonetic spelling
Derived Forms
phonetically, adverb
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin phōnēticus, from Greek phōnētikos, from phōnein to make sounds, speak
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for phonetic

"representing vocal sounds," 1803, from Modern Latin phoneticus (1797), from Greek phonetikos "vocal," from phonetos "to be spoken, utterable," verbal adjective of phonein "to speak clearly, utter," from phone "sound, voice" (see fame (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phonetic in Medicine

phonetic pho·net·ic (fə-nět'ĭk)

  1. Of or relating to phonetics.

  2. Representing the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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