from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of or relating to phonetics.
  • adjective Representing the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being features of pronunciation that are not phonemically distinctive in a language, as aspiration of consonants or vowel length in English.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Relating or pertaining to the human voice as used in speech; concerning articulate sounds, their mode of production, relations, combinations, and changes: as, phonetic science; phonetic decay.
  • Representing articulate sounds or utterance: as, a phonetic mode of writing (in contradistinction to an ideographic or pictorial mode); a phonetic mode of spelling (in contradistinction to a traditional, historical, or so-called etymological mode, such as the current spelling of English, in which letters representing or supposed to represent former and obsolete utterance are retained or inserted according to chances of time, caprice, or imperfect knowledge).
  • In entomology, as used by Kirby, noting the collar or prothorax of a hymenopterous insect when it embraces the mesothorax and the posterior angles cover the mesothoracic or so-called vocal spiracles.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Of or pertaining to the voice, or its use.
  • adjective Representing sounds; ; -- opposed to ideographic.
  • adjective spelling in phonetic characters, each representing one sound only; -- contrasted with Romanic spelling, or that by the use of the Roman alphabet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Relating to the sounds of spoken language.
  • adjective linguistics Relating to phones (as opposed to phonemes)
  • noun linguistics In such logographic writing systems as the Chinese writing system, the portion of a character (if any) that provides an indication of its pronunciation; contrasted with radical.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective of or relating to the scientific study of speech sounds
  • adjective of or relating to speech sounds


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin phōnēticus, representing speech sounds, from Greek phōnētikos, vocal, from phōnētos, to be spoken, from phōnein, to produce a sound, from phōnē, sound, voice; see bhā- in Indo-European roots.]



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  • A decidedly heterological word.

    January 5, 2007

  • Why aren't the words phoneticized?

    January 22, 2008

  • JM often wonders why phonetic isn’t spelled the way it sounds?

    August 13, 2011