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Great Vowel Shift

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noun Linguistics.
  1. a series of changes in the quality of the long vowels between Middle and Modern English as a result of which all were raised, while the high vowels (ē) and (o̅o̅), already at the upper limit, underwent breaking to become the diphthongs (ī) and (ou).
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British Dictionary definitions for great vowel shift

Great Vowel Shift

noun
  1. linguistics a phonetic change that took place during the transition from Middle to Modern English, whereby the long vowels were raised: ( became , became ), etc. The vowels () and () underwent breaking and became the diphthongs () and ()
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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