[ fuh-net-ik ]
See synonyms for: phoneticphonetics on

  1. Also pho·net·i·cal [fuh-net-i-kuhl]. /fəˈnɛt ɪ kəl/. of or relating to speech sounds, their production, or their transcription in written symbols.

  2. corresponding to pronunciation: phonetic transcription.

  1. agreeing with pronunciation: phonetic spelling.

  2. 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.

  1. (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

First recorded in 1820–30; from New Latin phōnēticus, from Greek phōnētikós “vocal,” equivalent to phōnēt(ós) “to be spoken” (verbid of phōneîn “to speak”) + -ikos adjective suffix; see -ic

Other words from phonetic

  • pho·net·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • non·pho·net·ic, adjective
  • non·pho·net·i·cal, adjective
  • un·pho·net·ic, adjective
  • un·pho·net·i·cal, adjective

Words that may be confused with phonetic

Words Nearby phonetic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use phonetic in a sentence

  • These tones help to distinguish words which have the same phonetic sound but different meanings.

    Chinese Poems | Various
  • If phonetic spelling is commenced with the alphabet, he will be accurately trained in that art also.

  • There are many phonetic alphabets; all else being equal, the one most widely used is clearly the most valuable.

British Dictionary definitions for phonetic


/ (fəˈnɛtɪk) /

  1. of or relating to phonetics

  2. denoting any perceptible distinction between one speech sound and another, irrespective of whether the sounds are phonemes or allophones: Compare phonemic (def. 2)

  1. conforming to pronunciation: phonetic spelling

Origin of phonetic

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

Derived forms of phonetic

  • phonetically, adverb

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