diacritical mark

A diacritical mark is a symbol that tells a reader how to pronounce a letter. Part of learning to speak and write a new language is becoming familiar with its diacritical marks.

Diacritical marks can be squiggles, lines, or dots, and they can hover above a letter or be attached to it. They're also known as diacritics or accents. No matter what you call them or what they look like, diacritical marks are there to show you how a letter sounds when you say it out loud. The word café, for example, includes a diacritical mark that tells you to pronounce that last e as "ay."

Definitions of diacritical mark
  1. noun
    a mark added to a letter to indicate a special pronunciation
    synonyms: diacritic
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    types:
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    accent, accent mark
    a diacritical mark used to indicate stress or placed above a vowel to indicate a special pronunciation
    breve
    a diacritical mark (U-shaped) placed over a vowel to indicate a short sound
    cedilla
    a diacritical mark (,) placed below the letter c to indicate that it is pronounced as an s
    circumflex
    a diacritical mark (^) placed above a vowel in some languages to indicate a special phonetic quality
    hacek, wedge
    a diacritical mark (an inverted circumflex) placed above certain letters (such as the letter c) to indicate pronunciation
    macron
    a diacritical mark (-) placed above a vowel to indicate a long sound
    tilde
    a diacritical mark (~) placed over the letter n in Spanish to indicate a palatal nasal sound or over a vowel in Portuguese to indicate nasalization
    diaeresis, dieresis, umlaut
    a diacritical mark (two dots) placed over a vowel in German to indicate a change in sound
    stress mark
    a mark indicating the stress on a syllable
    acute, acute accent, ague
    a mark (') placed above a vowel to indicate pronunciation
    grave, grave accent
    a mark (`) placed above a vowel to indicate pronunciation
    type of:
    mark
    a written or printed symbol (as for punctuation)
Word Family