an·​ap·​tyx·​is ˌa-(ˌ)nap-ˈtik-səs How to pronounce anaptyxis (audio)
plural anaptyxes ˌa-(ˌ)nap-ˈtik-ˌsēz How to pronounce anaptyxis (audio)
: insertion of a vowel between two consonants : vowel epenthesis
anaptyctic adjective
anaptyctic vowels

Word History


borrowed from German Anaptyxis, borrowed from Greek anáptyxis "opening, cleft, explanation" (Middle Greek, "insertion of a vowel"), from anaptych-, stem of anaptýssein "to unfold, open up, disclose" (from ana- ana- + ptýssein "to fold up, roll up," of obscure origin) + -sis -sis

Note: As a term in linguistics the word was apparently introduced by the German philologist Georg Curtius (1820-85), who uses it on several occasions in Grundzüge der griechischen Etymologie, 5. unter Mitwirkung von Ernst Windisch umgearbeitete Auflage [fifth edition revised with the collaboration of Ernst Windisch] (Leipzig, 1879). He gives as the German equivalent Vocalentfaltung, literally, "unfolding of a vowel." The Greek word is mentioned by Curtius in an earlier edition (2. erweiterte Auflage, Leipzig, 1866), p. 514: "Auch diese im Inlaut zwischen Consonanten eintretenden Hülfsvocale, eine Erscheinung, welche die Altgrammatiker mit ἀνάπτυξις bezeichnen (Lobeck El. I 436), haben vor und nach Liquiden und Nasalen zahlreichen Analogien …" ("Also these helping vowels appearing medially between consonants, a phenomenon that the ancient grammarians characterized as anáptyxis (Lobeck El. I 436), have numerous analogical instances before and after liquids and nasals ….") "Lobeck El. I" is a reference to the Pathologiae sermonis Graeci elementa, prima pars, of Christian August Lobeck (Königsberg, 1853), which references Byzantine commentaries (the Epimerismi Homerici and Suda).

First Known Use

1876, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anaptyxis was in 1876

Dictionary Entries Near anaptyxis

Cite this Entry

“Anaptyxis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

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