- 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 syllables
DI taught even 4-year-olds to understand sounds, syllables, and rhyming.Equality Matters More Than Integration in Schools
May 15, 2014
Its opening line has nine syllables, its closing line has 13, and a landay ends with one of two sounds: “–ma” or “–na.”Beauty and Subversion in the Secret Poems of Afghan Women
April 6, 2014
Yet he continued to wrestle with a demon that the Perry Street regular felt sure could be summarized in four syllables.NYPD: We Have Hoffman’s Diary
February 5, 2014
For all the syllables crammed into its 79 minutes, very little is actually said on the Marshall Mathers LP 2.‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’ Review: Eminem’s a Great Rapper With Nothing to Say
November 5, 2013
Or is the line just a collection of nonsensical sounds and syllables?Miley Cyrus’s Craziest Lyrics From ‘Bangerz,’ Analyzed
October 8, 2013
But a child who was just in two syllables might have written the other.The Incomplete Amorist
The man was muttering rapid fragments of words, and syllables.The Gentleman From Indiana
The way he bit off the syllables showed how tired and disappointed he was.Sure Pop and the Safety Scouts
Roy Rutherford Bailey
In learning to read as children, we are first taught the letters and then the syllables.
And if the syllables have no parts, then they are those original elements of which there is no explanation.
- 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 syllables
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.