[ shwah ]
/ ʃwɑ /
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.
Ode To The SchwaHow do I love thee? Let me count the schwas. Not exactly what Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote in Sonnet 43 . . . but we like it all the same. Why? Because it finally pays tribute to the most frequent vowel sound in English: the schwa. What is the schwa and how does it sound? Simply put, the schwa is a reduced vowel sound written as …
Is It Ever OK To Say “Didja”?Didja ever think that there are ways of speaking that feel perfectly comfortable . . . but that would seem wrong if you wrote them down? Sorta like the way this sentence is written. Lemme tell you ‘bout this very phenomenon, relaxed pronunciation. Pronunciation is defined as “the conventional patterns of treatment of the sound and stress patterns of a syllable or word.” Relaxed pronunciation, …
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. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for schwa
/ (ʃwɑː) /
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
Word Origin for schwa
C19: via German from Hebrew shewā, a diacritic indicating lack of a vowel sound
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 schwa
1895, from German Schwa, ultimately from Hebrew shewa "a neutral vowel quality," literally "emptiness."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper