[ graf-eem ]
/ ˈgræf im /

noun Linguistics.

a minimal unit of a writing system.
a unit of a writing system consisting of all the written symbols or sequences of written symbols that are used to represent a single phoneme.

Origin of grapheme

First recorded in 1935–40; graph- + -eme

Related forms

gra·phe·mi·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for grapheme


/ (ˈɡræfiːm) /


linguistics one of a set of orthographic symbols (letters or combinations of letters) in a given language that serve to distinguish one word from another and usually correspond to or represent phonemes, e.g. the f in fun, the ph in phantom, and the gh in laugh

Derived Forms

graphemically, adverb

Word Origin for grapheme

C20: from Greek graphēma a letter
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