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[sib-uh-luh nt] /ˈsɪb ə lənt/
Phonetics. characterized by a hissing sound; noting sounds like those spelled with s in this
[th is] /ðɪs/ (Show IPA)
[rohz] /roʊz/ (Show IPA)
[presh-er] /ˈprɛʃ ər/ (Show IPA)
[plezh-er] /ˈplɛʒ ər/ (Show IPA)
and certain similar uses of ch, sh, z, zh, etc.
Phonetics. a sibilant consonant.
Origin of sibilant
1660-70; < Latin sībilant- (stem of sībilāns), present participle of sībilāre to hiss), equivalent to sībil(us) a hissing, whistling (of imitative orig.) + -ant- -ant
Related forms
sibilance, sibilancy, noun
sibilantly, adverb
nonsibilance, noun
nonsibilancy, noun
nonsibilant, adjective, noun
nonsibilantly, adverb
subsibilance, noun
subsibilancy, noun
subsibilant, adjective, noun
subsibilantly, adverb
unsibilant, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sibilant
Historical Examples
  • "We have awaited your coming," she said in her sibilant voice.

    Priestess of the Flame Sewell Peaslee Wright
  • Two letters, S and O, a sibilant and a vowel, of which no further explanation can be given.

    Theaetetus Plato
  • When they spoke Universal, their voices were sibilant, but not nearly so inhuman.

    The Colors of Space Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • It seemed as if that low, stealthy, sibilant whispering was going on forever.

    Shoe-Bar Stratton

    Joseph Bushnell Ames
  • A sibilant sound from the detective's lips took me to his side.

    The Motor Pirate George Sidney Paternoster
  • The name, also sibilant and thus easier to hear, was 'Esens'.

    The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
  • She spoke French with the soft, sibilant intonation of the Spaniard.

    The Double Four E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • The guard had paused, and from his lips came a sibilant sound.

    Dick Merriwell Abroad

    Burt L. Standish
  • In this name the accent falls upon the e; the s is sibilant.

    The Dynamiter Robert Louis Stevenson
  • A sound came from the direction not unlike that of a sibilant wind.

British Dictionary definitions for sibilant


(phonetics) relating to or denoting the consonants (s, z, / ʃ /, / ʒ /), all pronounced with a characteristic hissing sound
having a hissing sound: the sibilant sound of wind among the leaves
a sibilant consonant
Derived Forms
sibilance, sibilancy, noun
sibilantly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin sībilāre to hiss, of imitative origin; compare Greek sizein to hiss
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 sibilant

1660s, from Latin sibilantem (nominative sibilans), present participle of sibilare "to hiss, whistle," possibly of imitative origin (cf. Greek sizein "to hiss," Lettish sikt "to hiss," Old Church Slavonic svistati "to hiss, whistle"). Related: Sibilance; sibilation (1620s).


"speech sound having a hissing effect," 1772, from sibilant (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sibilant in Medicine

sibilant sib·i·lant (sĭb'ə-lənt)
Of, characterized by, or producing a hissing sound like that of (s) or (sh).

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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