Definitions

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

  • noun A sound that has the quality of one of the high vowels, as (ē) or (oo͞), and that functions as a consonant before or after vowels, as the initial sounds of yell and well and the final sounds of coy and cow.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A half-vowel; a sound partaking of the nature of both a vowel and a consonant; an articulation lying near the line of division between vowel and consonant, and so capable of being used with either value; also, the sign representing such a sound.

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

  • noun A sound intermediate between a vowel and a consonant, or partaking of the nature of both, as in the English w and y.
  • noun The sign or letter representing such a sound.

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

  • noun A sound in speech which has some qualities of a consonant and some qualities of a vowel
  • noun A letter which represents a semivowel sound, such as w or y in English.

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

  • noun a vowellike sound that serves as a consonant

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

semi- +‎ vowel

Examples

  • And, Iūnō is the *Latin* name; Uni is the Etruscan which, lo and behold, avoids the word-initial semivowel /j/.

    Prefixes in Minoan

  • You overlooked what I already clearly wrote: "avoidance of word-initial semivowel /j/."

    Prefixes in Minoan

  • The YA-/A- alternation in Minoan is merely a reflection of the phonotactically motivated avoidance of word-initial semivowel /j/.

    Prefixes in Minoan

  • And, Iūnō is the *Latin* name; Uni is the Etruscan which, lo and behold, avoids the word-initial semivowel /j/.

    Prefixes in Minoan

  • But continuing with the third possibility of preaspiration… on the basis of this single example, there are a number of possible explanations for the distribution, for example after vowels and semivowel.

    Linear A treatment of consonant clusters

  • And sometimes the speaker pronounces ‘yi’ with a discernible initial semivowel sound.

    Matthew Yglesias » Yi

  • However, I notice that the initial semivowel of the triliteral *wd` is uncertain.

    A list of possible Proto-Semitic loanwords in PIE

  • I'm not a native speaker and I don't have a dictionary to hand so there's a good chance I'm mistaken, but is the last sound of 'acceuil' and 'seuil' and 'deuil' a kind of a semivowel that has its own IPA representation?

    languagehat.com: UN SIT FASIL A LIR.

  • A semivowel that which with such impact has an audible sound, as S and R.

    Poetics

  • I mean may be either a vowel, a semivowel, or a mute.

    Poetics

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