Open your mouth and say “aaaaa.” There! You’ve just said a vowel. A vowel is a letter that represents an open sound. There are six vowels in the English language: a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.

Y is sometimes a vowel, as in the word story although it also sometimes acts as a consonant, as in the word yes. The vocal sounds represented by vowels are open and without friction. The word vowel comes from the Old French voieul, which is based on the Latin phrase littera vocalis, or "vocal letter," from the root word vox, or "voice."

Definitions of vowel
  1. noun
    a speech sound made with the vocal tract open
    synonyms: vowel sound
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    a speech sound that is not a vowel
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    a vowel whose quality or length is changed to indicate linguistic distinctions (such as sing sang sung song)
    a vowel sound that starts near the articulatory position for one vowel and moves toward the position for another
    schwa, shwa
    a neutral middle vowel; occurs in unstressed syllables
    stem vowel, thematic vowel
    a vowel that ends a stem and precedes an inflection
    gradation, grade
    a degree of ablaut
    murmur, murmur vowel
    a schwa that is incidental to the pronunciation of a consonant
    type of:
    phone, sound, speech sound
    (phonetics) an individual sound unit of speech without concern as to whether or not it is a phoneme of some language
  2. noun
    a letter of the alphabet standing for a spoken vowel
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    vowel point
    a mark placed below or near a consonant (as in Hebrew or Arabic) to indicate the spoken vowel
    type of:
    alphabetic character, letter, letter of the alphabet
    the conventional characters of the alphabet used to represent speech
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘vowel'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

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