[ roh-tuh-siz-uh m ]
/ ˈroʊ təˌsɪz əm /


Historical Linguistics. a change of a speech sound, especially (s), to (r), as in the change from Old Latin lases to Latin lares.
excessive use of the sound (r), its misarticulation, or the substitution of another sound for it.

Nearby words

  1. rhondda cynon taff,
  2. rhone,
  3. rhone river,
  4. rhone wine,
  5. rhopalid bug,
  6. rhotacize,
  7. rhotic,
  8. rhs,
  9. rhubarb,
  10. rhumb

Origin of rhotacism

1825–35; < Greek rhô rho + (io)tacism

Related formsrho·ta·cis·tic, adjective

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

British Dictionary definitions for rhotacism


/ (ˈrəʊtəˌsɪzəm) /

noun phonetics

excessive use or idiosyncratic pronunciation of r
Derived Formsrhotacist, nounrhotacistic, adjective

Word Origin for rhotacism

C19: from New Latin rhōtacismus, from Greek rhōtakizein (verb) from the letter rho

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

Word Origin and History for rhotacism



1830, from Modern Latin rhotacismus, from Greek rhotakizein, from rho "the letter -r-," from Hebrew or Phoenician roth. Excessive or peculiar use of the -r- sound (cf. the "burr"), especially the conversion of another sound (usually -s-) to -r-; cf. Aeolian Greek, which at the end of words changed -s- into -r- (hippor for hippos, etc.). Related: Rhotacize.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper