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vowel

[vou-uh l] /ˈvaʊ əl/
noun
1.
Phonetics.
  1. (in English articulation) a speech sound produced without occluding, diverting, or obstructing the flow of air from the lungs (opposed to consonant).
  2. (in a syllable) the sound of greatest sonority, as i in grill.
    Compare consonant (def 1b).
  3. (in linguistic function) a concept empirically determined as a phonological element in structural contrast with consonant, as the (ē) of be (bē), we (wē), and yeast (yēst).
2.
a letter representing or usually representing a vowel, as, in English, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y.
adjective
3.
of or relating to a vowel.
Origin
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English < Old French vowel < Latin vōcālis vocal
Related forms
vowelless, adjective
vowellike, adjective
vowely, vowelly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for vowellike

vowel

/ˈvaʊəl/
noun
1.
(phonetics) a voiced speech sound whose articulation is characterized by the absence of friction-causing obstruction in the vocal tract, allowing the breath stream free passage. The timbre of a vowel is chiefly determined by the position of the tongue and the lips
2.
a letter or character representing a vowel
Derived Forms
vowel-less, adjective
vowel-like, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French vouel, from Latin vocālis littera a vowel, from vocālis sonorous, from vox a voice
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 vowellike

vowel

n.

c.1300, from Old French vouel, from Latin vocalis, in littera vocalis, literally "vocal letter," from vox (genitive vocis) "voice" (see voice (n.)). Vowel shift in reference to the pronunciation change between Middle and Modern English is attested from 1909. The Hawaiian word hooiaioia, meaning "certified," has the most consecutive vowels of any word in current human speech; the English record-holder is queueing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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