aphaer·​e·​sis ə-ˈfer-ə-səs How to pronounce aphaeresis (audio)
plural aphaereses ə-ˈfer-ə-ˌsēz How to pronounce aphaeresis (audio)
: the loss of one or more sounds or letters at the beginning of a word (as in round for around and coon for raccoon)
aphaeretic adjective

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin, borrowed from Greek aphaíresis "taking away, removal, dropping of a letter or sound from the beginning of a word," from aphaire-, stem of aphairéō, aphaireîn "to take away" (from aph-, assimilated variant of apo- apo- + hairéō, haireîn "to take, grasp," of obscure origin) + -sis -sis

First Known Use

circa 1550, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aphaeresis was circa 1550

Dictionary Entries Near aphaeresis

Cite this Entry

“Aphaeresis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aphaeresis. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!