Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

diphthong

[dif-thawng, -thong, dip-]
See more synonyms for diphthong on Thesaurus.com
noun
  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.
Show More
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to diphthongize.
Show More

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

clickconsonantliquidphonesonantaffricatediphthongfricativeimplosiveplosivesibilantspirantsyllablevocable

Examples from the Web for diphthongs

Historical Examples

  • Herbert supposes the diphthongs to be "the first perhaps used in this kingdom."

    The Ship of Fools, Volume 1

    Sebastian Brandt

  • If they appear as proper diphthongs, they follow the rule of diphthongs.

    The Indian in his Wigwam

    Henry R. Schoolcraft

  • The nasalising of these diphthongs adds to the unpleasant effect.

  • All words have as many syllables as they have vowels and diphthongs.

  • There are as many syllables in a word as there are separate vowels and diphthongs.

    A Greek Primer

    Wallace Stearns


British Dictionary definitions for diphthongs

diphthong

noun
  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
Show More
Derived Formsdiphthongal, adjective

Word Origin

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 diphthongs

diphthong

n.

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."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper