|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)|
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."
Learn more about semivowel with a free trial on Britannica.com.