Definitions

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

  • n. A unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound formed by a vowel, diphthong, or syllabic consonant alone, or by any of these sounds preceded, followed, or surrounded by one or more consonants.
  • n. One or more letters or phonetic symbols written or printed to approximate a spoken syllable.
  • n. The slightest bit of spoken or written expression: Do not alter a syllable of this message.
  • transitive v. To pronounce in syllables.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A unit of human speech that is interpreted by the listener as a single sound, although syllables usually consist of one or more vowel sounds, either alone or combined with the sound of one or more consonants; a word consists of one or more syllables.
  • n. The written representation of a given pronounced syllable.
  • v. To utter in syllables.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An elementary sound, or a combination of elementary sounds, uttered together, or with a single effort or impulse of the voice, and constituting a word or a part of a word. In other terms, it is a vowel or a diphtong, either by itself or flanked by one or more consonants, the whole produced by a single impulse or utterance. One of the liquids, l, m, n, may fill the place of a vowel in a syllable. Adjoining syllables in a word or phrase need not to be marked off by a pause, but only by such an abatement and renewal, or reënforcement, of the stress as to give the feeling of separate impulses. See Guide to Pronunciation, §275.
  • n. In writing and printing, a part of a word, separated from the rest, and capable of being pronounced by a single impulse of the voice. It may or may not correspond to a syllable in the spoken language.
  • n. A small part of a sentence or discourse; anything concise or short; a particle.
  • transitive v. To pronounce the syllables of; to utter; to articulate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The smallest separately articulated element in human utterance; a vowel, alone, or accompanied by one or more consonants, and separated by these or by a pause from a preceding or following vowel; one of the successive parts or joints into which articulated speech is divided, being either a whole word, composed of a single vowel (whether simple or compound) with accompanying consonants, or a part of a word containing such a vowel, separated from a preceding or following vowel either by a hiatus (that is, an instant of silence) or, much more usually, by an intervening consonant, or more than one.
  • n. In music, one of the arbitrary combinations of consonants and vowels used in solmization.
  • n. The least expression of language or thought; a particle.
  • To divide into syllables.
  • To pronounce syllable by syllable; articulate; utter.
  • To speak.

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

  • n. a unit of spoken language larger than a phoneme

Etymologies

Middle English sillable, from Anglo-Norman, alteration of Old French sillabe, from Latin syllaba, from Greek sullabē, from sullabein, second aorist of sullambanein, to combine in pronunciation : sun-, syn- + lambanein, to take.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English and Middle French sillabe, from Latin syllaba, from Ancient Greek συλλαβή (sullabē), from συλλαμβάνω (sullambanō, "I gather together"), from συν- (sun-, "together") + λαμβάνω (lambanō, "I take"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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