[ fuh-net-ik, foh- ]
/ fəˈnɛt ɪk, foʊ- /


Also pho·net·i·cal. of or relating to speech sounds, their production, or their transcription in written symbols.
corresponding to pronunciation: phonetic transcription.
agreeing with pronunciation: phonetic spelling.
concerning or involving the discrimination of nondistinctive elements of a language. In English, certain phonological features, as length and aspiration, are phonetic but not phonemic.


(in Chinese writing) a written element that represents a sound and is used in combination with a radical to form a character.

Origin of phonetic

1820–30; < New Latin phōnēticus < Greek phōnētikós vocal, equivalent to phōnēt(ós) to be spoken (verbid of phōneîn to speak) + -ikos -ic

Related forms

Can be confused

fanatic phonetic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for phonetic

British Dictionary definitions for phonetic


/ (fəˈnɛtɪk) /


of or relating to phonetics
denoting any perceptible distinction between one speech sound and another, irrespective of whether the sounds are phonemes or allophonesCompare phonemic (def. 2)
conforming to pronunciationphonetic spelling

Derived Forms

phonetically, adverb

Word Origin for phonetic

C19: from New Latin phōnēticus, from Greek phōnētikos, from phōnein to make sounds, speak
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

Medicine definitions for phonetic


[ fə-nĕtĭk ]


Of or relating to phonetics.
Representing the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.