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semivowel

[sem-ee-vou-uh l]
noun
  1. Phonetics. a speech sound of vowel quality used as a consonant, as (w) in wet or (y) in yet.
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Origin of semivowel

1520–30; semi- + vowel; replacing semivocal < Latin sēmivocālis half vowel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for semivowel

Historical Examples of semivowel

  • Effect of the semivowel y on certain letters when they precede it.

    A Handbook of the English Language

    Robert Gordon Latham

  • In roi it is the semivowel allied to series p; in oil it is the semivowel allied to series k.

    The English Language

    Robert Gordon Latham

  • The diphthong oi is the vowel o modified, plus the semivowel y (not the vowel i) modified.

    The English Language

    Robert Gordon Latham

  • It has taken the allied sound of the semivowel y, and so, with the preceding vowel, constitutes a diphthong.

    The English Language

    Robert Gordon Latham

  • It should be noted that the Dictionarium, which was written contemporaniously, does use y for the semivowel.


British Dictionary definitions for semivowel

semivowel

noun phonetics
  1. a vowel-like sound that acts like a consonant, in that it serves the same function in a syllable carrying the same amount of prominence as a consonant relative to a true vowel, the nucleus of the syllable. In English and many other languages the chief semivowels are (w) in well and (j), represented as y, in yell
  2. a frictionless continuant classified as one of the liquids; (l) or (r)
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Also called (US and Canadian): glide
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