[ ahr-kuh-foh-neem, ahr-kuh-foh-neem ]

  1. an abstract phonological unit consisting of the distinctive features common to two phonemes that differ only in that one has a distinctive feature lacking in the other. The archiphoneme is said to be realized when in a certain position an otherwise phonemic opposition is neutralized; thus, in German, while p and b are separate phonemes differing only in the distinctive feature of voicing, in final position the voicing or unvoicing of the labial stop is nondistinctive, and the p-sound of leib “body” may be called the realization of the archiphoneme.

  2. such a unit occurring in a position where the contrast between two or more phonemes is neutralized.

Origin of archiphoneme

1935–40; <German Archiphonem or <French archiphonème, term first used by R. Jakobson in 1929; see archi-, phoneme

Words Nearby archiphoneme Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for archiphoneme


/ (ˈɑːkɪˌfəʊniːm, ˌɑːkɪˈfəʊniːm) /

  1. phonetics an abstract linguistic unit representing two or more phonemes when the distinction between these has been neutralized: conventionally shown by a capital letter within slashes, as /T/ for /t/ and /d/ in German Rat and Rad

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