• synonyms


[dif-thawng, -thong, dip-]
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  1. Phonetics. an unsegmentable, gliding speech sound varying continuously in phonetic quality but held to be a single sound or phoneme and identified by its apparent beginning and ending sound, as the oi-sound of toy or boil.
  2. (not in technical use)
    1. a digraph, as the ea of meat.
    2. a ligature, as æ.
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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to diphthongize.
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Origin of diphthong

1425–75; late Middle English diptonge < Late Latin diphthongus < Greek díphthongos literally, having two sounds (di- di-1 + phthóngos voice, sound)
Related formsdiph·thon·gal [dif-thawng-guh l, -thong-, dip-] /dɪfˈθɔŋ gəl, -ˈθɒŋ-, dɪp-/, diph·thon·gic, diph·thon·gous, adjectivenon·diph·thon·gal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for diphthong

click, consonant, liquid, phone, sonant, affricate, diphthong, fricative, implosive, plosive, sibilant, spirant, syllable, vocable

Examples from the Web for diphthong

Historical Examples of diphthong

  • "Scarlet Velvet" and "Diphthong" gained the Aberdeenshire challenge-cup in 1862-63.

    Cattle and Cattle-breeders

    William M'Combie

  • He could not reconcile this kind of diphthong living with his notions of piety.

  • The "i" represents, however, the Greek diphthong ει, and is long.

  • In bead we have not a single vowel, but a kind of diphthong.

  • Consider, for example, the pronunciation of the diphthong oi.

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

British Dictionary definitions for diphthong


  1. a vowel sound, occupying a single syllable, during the articulation of which the tongue moves from one position to another, causing a continual change in vowel quality, as in the pronunciation of a in English late, during which the tongue moves from the position of (e) towards (ɪ)
  2. a digraph or ligature representing a composite vowel such as this, as ae in Caesar
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Derived Formsdiphthongal, adjective

Word Origin for diphthong

C15: from Late Latin diphthongus, from Greek diphthongos, from di- 1 + phthongos sound
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

Word Origin and History for diphthong


late 15c., from Middle French diphthongue, from Late Latin diphthongus, from Greek diphthongos "having two sounds," from di- "double" (see di- (1)) + phthongos "sound, voice," related to phthengesthai "utter, speak loudly."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper