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Segment of speech usually consisting of a vowel with or without accompanying consonant sounds (e.g., a, I, out, too, cap, snap, check). A syllabic consonant, like the final n sound in button and widen, also constitutes a syllable. Closed (checked) syllables end in a consonant, open (free) syllables in a vowel. Syllables play an important role in the study of speech and in phonetics and phonology.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on syllable, visit Britannica.com.