Definitions

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

  • noun A change in a vowel sound caused by partial assimilation especially to a vowel or semivowel occurring in the following syllable.
  • noun A vowel sound changed in this manner.
  • noun The diacritic mark (¨) placed over a vowel to indicate an umlaut, especially in German.
  • transitive verb To modify by umlaut.
  • transitive verb To write or print (a vowel) with an umlaut.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In philology, to form with the umlaut, as a form; also, to affect or modify by umlaut, as a sound.
  • noun In philology, the German name, invented by Grimm, for a vowel-change in the Germanic languages, brought about by the influence of a vowel in the succeeding syllable: namely, of the vowel i, modifying the preceding vowel in the direction of e or i, and of the vowel u, modifying the preceding vowel toward a or u.

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

  • noun (Philol.) The euphonic modification of a root vowel sound by the influence of a, u, or especially i, in the syllable which formerly followed.

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

  • noun linguistics An assimilatory process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vocoid that is separated by one or more consonants.
  • noun linguistics The umlaut process (as above) that occurred historically in Germanic languages whereby back vowels became front vowels when followed by syllable containing a front vocoid (e.g. Germanic lūsi > Old English līs(i) > Modern English lice).
  • noun linguistics A vowel so assimilated.
  • noun orthography The diacritical mark ( ¨ ) placed over a vowel, usually when it indicates such assimilation.
  • verb To place an umlaut over a vowel.

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

  • noun a diacritical mark (two dots) placed over a vowel in German to indicate a change in sound

Etymologies

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

[German : um-, around, alteration (from Middle High German umb-, from umbe, from Old High German umbi; see ambhi in Indo-European roots) + Laut, sound (from Middle High German lūt, from Old High German hlūt; see kleu- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From German Umlaut, from um ("around") + Laut ("sound"), from Old High German hlut.

Examples

  • What happens in umlaut is that a back vowel is modified so as to have the form of the corresponding front vowel when there is a front vowel in the following syllable; this typically happens in plural forms of nouns, comparative forms of adjectives, and other words that have suffixes, so Mann (man) becomes Männer (men), lang (long) becomes länger (longer), and Tod (death) becomes tödlich (deathly, lethal).

    Umlaut

  • What happens in umlaut is that a back vowel is modified so as to have the form of the corresponding front vowel when there is a front vowel in the following syllable; this typically happens in plural forms of nouns, comparative forms of adjectives, and other words that have suffixes, so Mann (man) becomes Männer (men), lang (long) becomes länger (longer), and Tod (death) becomes tödlich (deathly, lethal).

    Umlaut

  • What happens in umlaut is that a back vowel is modified so as to have the form of the corresponding front vowel when there is a front vowel in the following syllable; this typically happens in plural forms of nouns, comparative forms of adjectives, and other words that have suffixes, so Mann (man) becomes Männer (men), lang (long) becomes länger (longer), and Tod (death) becomes tödlich (deathly, lethal).

    10 posts from January 2007

  • The preposition um means around or surrounding, but as a prefix the word has the idea of changing or modifying; laut means sound, so an umlaut is a modified sound.

    Umlaut

  • The preposition um means around or surrounding, but as a prefix the word has the idea of changing or modifying; laut means sound, so an umlaut is a modified sound.

    10 posts from January 2007

  • The preposition um means around or surrounding, but as a prefix the word has the idea of changing or modifying; laut means sound, so an umlaut is a modified sound.

    Umlaut

  • Now an umlaut is masculine, but an accent mark ...?

    An Open Letter to David Horowitz

  • Okay, so they're spelling it differently (the umlaut is a nice touch, I must admit) ... but still!

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Okay, so they're spelling it differently (the umlaut is a nice touch, I must admit) ... but still!

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Okay, so they're spelling it differently (the umlaut is a nice touch, I must admit) ... but still!

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

Comments

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  • Umlaut Accent: naïve

    December 19, 2006

  • Umlauts röck!

    October 28, 2007

  • The band Queensrÿche has long regretted the "heavy metal umlaut" in their name.

    October 28, 2007

  • The distinction between this and the diaeresis is minor, and imho not warranted.

    October 28, 2007

  • Minor distinctions are the best kind. They're what gives a word its muscle, if you know how to use them.

    December 2, 2007

  • An Open Letter to Umlaut.

    September 26, 2008