[ fuh-net-iks, foh- ]
/ fəˈnɛt ɪks, foʊ- /

noun (used with a singular verb)

the science or study of speech sounds and their production, transmission, and reception, and their analysis, classification, and transcription.Compare acoustic phonetics, articulatory phonetics, auditory phonetics, physiological phonetics.
the phonetic system or the body of phonetic facts of a particular language.
the symbols used to represent the speech sounds of a language.

Origin of phonetics

First recorded in 1835–45; see origin at phonetic, -ics

Definition for phonetics (2 of 2)


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

Examples from the Web for phonetics

British Dictionary definitions for phonetics (1 of 2)


/ (fəˈnɛtɪks) /


(functioning as singular) the science concerned with the study of speech processes, including the production, perception, and analysis of speech sounds from both an acoustic and a physiological point of view. This science, though capable of being applied to language studies, technically excludes linguistic considerationsCompare phonology

British Dictionary definitions for phonetics (2 of 2)


/ (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 Formsphonetically, 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 phonetics (1 of 2)


[ fə-nĕtĭks ]


The branch of linguistics that deals with the sounds of speech and their production, combination, description, and representation by written symbols.

Medicine definitions for phonetics (2 of 2)


[ 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.