- an uninterrupted segment of speech consisting of a vowel sound, a diphthong, or a syllabic consonant, with or without preceding or following consonant sounds: “Eye,” “sty,” “act,” and “should” are English words of one syllable. “Eyelet,” “stifle,” “enact,” and “shouldn't” are two-syllable words.
- one or more written letters or characters representing more or less exactly such an element of speech.
- the slightest portion or amount of speech or writing; the least mention: Do not breathe a syllable of all this.
- to utter in syllables; articulate.
- to represent by syllables.
- to utter syllables; speak.
Origin of syllable
Breaking a written word into syllables—as in a dictionary entry, where the purpose is to clarify the structure of the word and assist in understanding and pronunciation, or in a book, for the purpose of end-of-line hyphenation—involves additional considerations. While based primarily on sound, the syllable divisions in spelled-out forms are also influenced by long-established spelling conventions, the etymology of the word, and the lack of an exact correspondence between spelling and pronunciation. For example, in writing, multisyllabic words with double consonants are conventionally divided between the consonants, even though the consonant is pronounced only once: sudden is divided as sud·den, though pronounced sudd ʹ n. But the word adding —formed by combining the word add with the suffix -ing, is divided as add·ing to show its constituent parts. And a word like exact (pronounced ig ʹ zakt) cannot be divided purely phonetically, because the letter x itself would have to be split; it is traditionally divided as ex·act. This means that even when divisions in the spelled form and the pronunciation do not match, they are both correct.
Examples from the Web for syllable
The extending out of one syllable is a great songwriting device.Yes, I Like Christmas Music. Stop Laughing.
December 24, 2014
The tone of this syllable swooped up briefly, and then down.Who Has the Right to Write About War?
Emily Gray Tedrowe
July 12, 2014
At the first syllable Obama uttered in its favor, the Republicans practically to a person would oppose it.The GOP’s Pitiful Reformers
May 28, 2013
Things that sound almost like words but are just a syllable or two off.My Great Art-Hoax Experiment
December 9, 2012
But there is not one syllable in what he said that suggests the smallest amount of confusion.How Mitt Romney Missed His Moment on Contraception
March 2, 2012
I have been in the city to-day, and did not hear a syllable of this.
Her sobs and tears prevented his understanding one syllable she said.Tales And Novels, Volume 5 (of 10)
Not a syllable of opposition to his reelection is heard from any quarter.The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
Hamish did not say a syllable about the loss at table; neither did Arthur.The Channings
Mrs. Henry Wood
No one shall have it in his power to say a syllable against me,' he returned. 'Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
- a combination or set of one or more units of sound in a language that must consist of a sonorous element (a sonant or vowel) and may or may not contain less sonorous elements (consonants or semivowels) flanking it on either or both sides: for example "paper" has two syllablesSee also open (def. 34b), closed (def. 6a)
- (in the writing systems of certain languages, esp ancient ones) a symbol or set of symbols standing for a syllable
- the least mention in speech or printdon't breathe a syllable of it
- in words of one syllable simply; bluntly
- to pronounce syllables of (a text); articulate
- (tr) to write down in syllables
Word Origin and History for syllable
late 14c., from Anglo-French sillable, Old French sillabe, from Latin syllaba, from Greek syllabe "a syllable, several sounds or letters taken together," literally "a taking together," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + stem of lambanein "to take" (see analemma). The extra -l- was added by analogy with participle and principle.