schwa

Linguistic scholars might be most likely to discuss the schwa, or the unstressed vowel sound in a word, but we all use the schwa every day.

We'd all be tongue-tied without it — the most common vowel sound in English, represented by an upside-down e and ready to spring into action in almost any unstressed syllable. The second syllable of sofa is one example of an English schwa. The word schwa is from the Hebrew word shewa, which denotes a diacritical mark meaning "no vowel," and literally means "emptiness."

Definitions of schwa
  1. noun
    a neutral middle vowel; occurs in unstressed syllables
    synonyms: shwa
    see moresee less
    types:
    murmur, murmur vowel
    a schwa that is incidental to the pronunciation of a consonant
    type of:
    vowel, vowel sound
    a speech sound made with the vocal tract open
Word Family