- a pair of words, as pin and bin, or bet and bed, differing only by one sound in the same position in each word, especially when such a pair is taken as evidence for the existence of a phonemic contrast between the two sounds.
Origin of minimal pair
First recorded in 1940–45
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- linguistics a pair of speech elements in a given language differing in only one respect and thus serving to identify minimum units such as phonemes, morphemes, etc. For example, tin and din constitute a minimal pair in English