semivowel

semivowel

[sem-ee-vou-uhl]
noun
Phonetics. a speech sound of vowel quality used as a consonant, as (w) in wet or (y) in yet.

Origin:
1520–30; semi- + vowel; replacing semivocal < Latin sēmivocālis half vowel

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semivowel (ˈsɛmɪˌvaʊəl)
 
n
1.  a vowel-like sound that acts like a consonant, in that it serves the same function in a syllable carrying the same amount of prominence as a consonant relative to a true vowel, the nucleus of the syllable.In English and many other languages the chief semivowels are (w) in well and (j), represented as y, in yell
2.  a frictionless continuant classified as one of the liquids; (l) or (r)

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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

semivowel

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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