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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An assimilatory process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vocoid that is separated by one or more consonants.
  • n. 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).
  • n. A vowel so assimilated.
  • n. The diacritical mark ( ¨ ) placed over a vowel, usually when it indicates such assimilation.
  • v. To place an umlaut over a vowel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In philology, to form with the umlaut, as a form; also, to affect or modify by umlaut, as a sound.
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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


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) + Laut, sound (from Middle High German lūt, from Old High German hlūt).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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

  • "The computer thought the umlaut was the last letter in the alphabet and removed everyone else's names," he said.

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • Probably because of that strange little trema (a French kind of umlaut or diaeresis) over the "e".

    Brooks Peters: Le Mot Juiced

  • Everywhere that his name appears in the printed text, the letter "u" is marked with two dots above it (called an 'umlaut') to show that it is pronounced differently from the way the unmarked vowel is normally pronounced.

    George Müller of Bristol And His Witness to a Prayer-Hearing God

  • For those of you unfamiliar with German diacritics, "umlaut" is the name for the two dots above a vowel.

    Express Milwaukee

  • #458783: Doesn't start if installed into a directory with an "umlaut"

    GnuCash News

  • By the way, there is no "umlaut" ¨) in the name Under Byen - we don't have umlauts in Danish ;-)

    Music While Painting


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  • An Open Letter to Umlaut.

    September 26, 2008

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

    December 2, 2007

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

    October 28, 2007

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

    October 28, 2007

  • Umlauts röck!

    October 28, 2007

  • Umlaut Accent: naïve

    December 19, 2006