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Word of the Day
Sunday, April 30, 2017

Definitions for diacritic

  1. a mark, point, or sign added or attached to a letter or character to distinguish it from another of similar form, to give it a particular phonetic value, to indicate stress, etc., as a cedilla, tilde, circumflex, or macron. Also called diacritical mark.
  2. diacritical.
  3. diagnostic.

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Citations for diacritic
Like a lovely little sunhat. It's [the circumflex] a diacritic that sits on top of letters in many modern languages, although most famously in French. , "How the circumflex became France's bête noire," The Guardian, February 5, 2016
The diacritics on the words, the distinguishing features between similar spellings, had been manually added over the page, making it hard to read, especially for Berith, whose grasp of Viet was still poor. Aliette de Bodard, The House of Binding Thorns, 2017
Origin of diacritic
The most familiar meaning of diacritic in current usage is a mark that modifies a letter of the alphabet, e.g., the acute or grave accents in French, the tilde in Spanish and Portuguese, or the umlauted vowels in German. Diacritic still has its original Greek meaning “distinguishing, distinctive,” as in the diagnosis of a disease. The second element (-critic) comes from the Greek verb krínein “to judge, separate, discriminate,” also the source of “crisis, critic,” and “hypocrisy.” The Greek verb is akin to Latin cernere, which has the same meanings as the Greek verb but also keeps its original sense “to sift,” inherited from Proto-Indo-European. Diacritic entered English in the 17th century.