• synonyms


[vou-uh l]
See more synonyms for vowel on Thesaurus.com
  1. Phonetics.
    1. (in English articulation) a speech sound produced without occluding, diverting, or obstructing the flow of air from the lungs (opposed to consonant).
    2. (in a syllable) the sound of greatest sonority, as i in grill.Compare consonant(def 1b).
    3. (in linguistic function) a concept empirically determined as a phonological element in structural contrast with consonant, as the (ē) of be (bē), we (wē), and yeast (yēst).
  2. a letter representing or usually representing a vowel, as, in English, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y.
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  1. of or relating to a vowel.
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Origin of vowel

1275–1325; Middle English < Old French vowel < Latin vōcālis vocal
Related formsvow·el·less, adjectivevow·el·like, adjectivevow·el·y, vow·el·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for vowel

articulate, verbal, operatic, choral, singing, sonant, lyric, oral, vowel, sung, voiced, phonetic, pronounced, said, uttered, articulated, expressed, phonic, vocalic, spoken

Examples from the Web for vowel

Historical Examples of vowel

  • Two letters, S and O, a sibilant and a vowel, of which no further explanation can be given.



  • A vowel is like an olian harp; it makes a full and perfect sound of itself.

  • Meso: middle: as prefix, drops the o when stem begins with a vowel.

  • No attempt has been made to indicate these differences of vowel sound.

    Unwritten Literature of Hawaii

    Nathaniel Bright Emerson

  • The Thought is simple and massy enough: but where is a Vowel?

British Dictionary definitions for vowel


  1. phonetics a voiced speech sound whose articulation is characterized by the absence of friction-causing obstruction in the vocal tract, allowing the breath stream free passage. The timbre of a vowel is chiefly determined by the position of the tongue and the lips
  2. a letter or character representing a vowel
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Derived Formsvowel-less, adjectivevowel-like, adjective

Word Origin for vowel

C14: from Old French vouel, from Latin vocālis littera a vowel, from vocālis sonorous, from vox a voice
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 vowel


c.1300, from Old French vouel, from Latin vocalis, in littera vocalis, literally "vocal letter," from vox (genitive vocis) "voice" (see voice (n.)). Vowel shift in reference to the pronunciation change between Middle and Modern English is attested from 1909. The Hawaiian word hooiaioia, meaning "certified," has the most consecutive vowels of any word in current human speech; the English record-holder is queueing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper