epen·​the·​sis i-ˈpen(t)-thə-səs How to pronounce epenthesis (audio)
plural epentheses i-ˈpen(t)-thə-ˌsēz How to pronounce epenthesis (audio)
: the insertion or development of a sound or letter in the body of a word (such as \ə\ in \ˈa-thə-ˌlēt\ athlete)
epenthetic adjective

Did you know?

If you say film as "FIL-um," with two syllables, you've committed epenthesis. It isn't a punishable offense-in fact, it's not an offense at all. It is simply a natural way to break up an awkward cluster of consonants. It's easier for some people to say film as two syllables instead of one, just as it's easier for some to insert a "b" sound into cummerbund, pronouncing that word as "CUM-ber-bund."

Word History


Late Latin, from Greek, from epentithenai to insert a letter, from epi- + entithenai to put in, from en- + tithenai to put — more at do

First Known Use

1543, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of epenthesis was in 1543


Dictionary Entries Near epenthesis

Cite this Entry

“Epenthesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epenthesis. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

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