- (in English articulation) a speech sound produced by occluding with or without releasing (p, b; t, d; k, g), diverting (m, n, ng), or obstructing (f, v; s, z, etc.) the flow of air from the lungs (opposed to vowel).
- (in a syllable) any sound other than the sound of greatest sonority in the syllable, as b, r, and g in brig (opposed to sonant).Compare vowel(def 1b).
- (in linguistic function) a concept empirically determined as a phonological element in structural contrast with vowel, as the b of be, the w of we, the y, s, and t of yeast, etc.
- a letter that usually represents a consonant sound.
Origin of consonant
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for consonants
The consonants were reproduced but the reader was forced to guess at the vowels.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
His consonants were already a little slurred and he knew Gloria was ashamed of him.The Doorway
Evelyn E. Smith
By means of consonants we articulate our words; that is, we give them joints.The Child-Voice in Singing
Francis E. Howard
It is as if the composer were endeavoring to set to melody the consonants of his name.Old Fogy
Perhaps some of us struggle along with consonants that spell somebody else.Christmas
- a speech sound or letter of the alphabet other than a vowel; a stop, fricative, or continuant
- (postpositive; foll by with or to) consistent; in agreement
- harmonious in tone or sound
- music characterized by the presence of a consonance
- being or relating to a consonant
Word Origin and History for consonants
early 14c., "sound other than a vowel," from Latin consonantem (nominative consonans), present participle of consonare "to sound together, sound aloud," from com- "with" (see com-) + sonare "to sound" (see sonata). Consonants were thought of as sounds that are only produced together with vowels.
early 15c., from Old French consonant (13c.), from Latin consonantem (nominative consonans), present participle of consonare (see consonant (n.)).
Letters of the alphabet that stand for sounds often made with a closed or partially closed mouth: B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Z, and sometimes Y (as in yellow). (Compare vowels.)