- the mid-central, neutral vowel sound typically occurring in unstressed syllables in English, however spelled, as the sound of a in alone and sofa, e in system, i in easily, o in gallop, u in circus.
- the phonetic symbol ə, used to represent this sound.
Origin of schwa
1890–95; < German < Hebrew shəwā, name of a diacritic marking schwa or no vowel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- a central vowel represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet by (ə). The sound occurs in unstressed syllables in English, as in around, mother, and sofa
- the symbol (ə) used to represent this sound
C19: via German from Hebrew shewā, a diacritic indicating lack of a vowel sound
Word Origin and History for schwa
1895, from German Schwa, ultimately from Hebrew shewa "a neutral vowel quality," literally "emptiness."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper