Definitions

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

  • noun A speech sound, such as (ē) or (ĭ), created by the relatively free passage of breath through the larynx and oral cavity, usually forming the most prominent and central sound of a syllable.
  • noun A letter, such as a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y in the English alphabet, that represents a vowel.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To provide or complete with vowels; insert vowels in (a word or syllable).
  • noun The vowel-points, except holem and shuruk, are written below the consonants. The holem is placed above the letter, and the dot of the shuruk within the letter vau to the left .
  • noun One of the openest, most resonant, and continuable sounds uttered by the voice in the process of speaking; a sound in which the element of tone, though modified and differentiated by positions of the mouth-organs, is predominant; a tone-sound, as distinguished from a fricative (in which a rustling between closely approximated organs is the predominant element), from a mute (in which the explosion of a closure is characteristic), and so on.
  • noun The letter or character which represents such a sound
  • Pertaining to a vowel; vocal
  • To pay (debts) by an “I O U.”

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

  • noun (Phon.) A vocal, or sometimes a whispered, sound modified by resonance in the oral passage, the peculiar resonance in each case giving to each several vowel its distinctive character or quality as a sound of speech; -- distinguished from a consonant in that the latter, whether made with or without vocality, derives its character in every case from some kind of obstructive action by the mouth organs. Also, a letter or character which represents such a sound. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 5, 146-149.
  • noun See under Close, a.
  • noun See under Point, n.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to a vowel; vocal.

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

  • noun phonetics A sound produced by the vocal cords with relatively little restriction of the oral cavity, forming the prominent sound of a syllable.
  • noun A letter representing the sound of vowel; in English, the vowels are a, e, i, o and u, and sometimes y.

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

  • noun a letter of the alphabet standing for a spoken vowel
  • noun a speech sound made with the vocal tract open

Etymologies

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

[Middle English vowelle, from Old French vouel, from Latin (littera) vōcālis, sounding (letter), from vōx, vōc-, voice; see wekw- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French vouel (French: voyelle), from Latin vōcālis ("voiced").

Examples

  • If the voice thus produced comes out through the mouth held well open, a class of sounds is formed which we call vowel sounds.

    Higher Lessons in English A work on english grammar and composition

  • Meanwhile the eh vowel is moving towards the short-u uh vowel so that ‘bed’ is starting to sound like ‘bud’.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » “The Modern Practice of Making Certain Nouns into Verbs”

  • One of the main reason why you must NOT make a liaison after "et" (= 'and', pronounced "é") in front of a vowel is often to avoid nonsense and confusion.

    l'accent tonique - French Word-A-Day

  • The rules for using "a" or "an" are based on the SOUND of the first letter of the word vowel or consonant not the actually written word.

    Old Time Wreck 'n Roll

  • Ten of the 12 intervals generated by the analysis of either English or Mandarin vowel spectra are those used in just intonation tuning, whereas 4 of the 12 match the Pythagorean tuning and only 1 of the 12 intervals matches those used in equal temperament.

    Arguments, agreements, advice, answers, articulate announcements

  • Ten of the 12 intervals generated by the analysis of either English or Mandarin vowel spectra are those used in just intonation tuning, whereas 4 of the 12 match the Pythagorean tuning and only 1 of the 12 intervals matches those used in equal temperament.

    Archive 2007-06-01

  • In ‘the initial a is preceded by the so called spiritus lends (’), a sign which must be placed in front or at the top of any vowel beginning a Greek word, and which represents that slight aspiration or soft breathing almost involuntarily uttered, when we try to pronounce a vowel by itself.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • In English transcription, which I use in this book, it's simply represented by the letter "a," as in the words kalb (kah-leb; dog) or walad (wah-lahd; boy). damma: The second main Arabic vowel is the damma (dah-mah).

    Arabic for Dummies

  • You referred to the vowel in the first syllable of the “PEH-duh-file” pronunciation as being a schwa, but the schwa is a sound that occurs only in unaccented syllables, like the first syllable of “about.”

    The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

  • You referred to the vowel in the first syllable of the “PEH-duh-file” pronunciation as being a schwa, but the schwa is a sound that occurs only in unaccented syllables, like the first syllable of “about.”

    The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • (v): to avoid paying a gambling debt by repeating the vowels I. O. U., as in "You can vowel me all night long but I'll still take my winnings." From The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

    Never thought of this as a verb.

    November 10, 2007

  • And if your gambling debt was to the writer George Russell, you could write on your slip: AE IOU.

    November 10, 2007

  • Why?

    November 11, 2007

  • Wye?

    November 11, 2007

  • Ha! I like that, skipvia. Will have to use it next time I owe money.

    Wait...I hate owing money. Never mind.

    November 11, 2007

  • vowels are much like valves; they are referant emotional inflections that make the connections between the constants of consonants.

    November 11, 2007

  • Skipvia, that is an *awesome* book!

    November 11, 2007

  • Isn't if fun? Without it I would never have found vice admiral of the narrow seas.

    November 11, 2007

  • If you guys really want some fun, check out Bailey's Canting Dictionary (Thieving Slang), 1736. Learn about pimp-whiskins and zlouches, and find out why you'll want to avoid being frummagemm'd.

    November 11, 2007

  • It is a well known and easily demonstrated scientific fact that different people sound different vowels when laughing, from which fact a close observer has drawn the following conclusions:

    People who laugh in A (pronounced as ah) are frank, honest, and fond of noise and excitement, though they are often of a versatile and fickle disposition.

    Laughter in E (pronounced as ay) is peculiar to phlegmatic and melancholy persons.

    Those who laugh in I (pronounced as ee) are children or simple-minded, obliging, affectionate, timid, and undecided people.

    To laugh in O indicates generosity and daring.

    Avoid if possible all those who laugh in U, as they are wholly devoid of principle.

    Henry Williams, A Book of Curious Facts, 1903

    (by way of The Futility Closet)

    November 3, 2008