minimal pair

noun

: two linguistic units that differ in a single distinctive feature or constituent (such as voice in the initial consonants of bat and pat)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Sixty-nine percent of you voted for Balmain’s crystal-embellished style over Dries Van Noten’s slimmer and minimal pair. Vogue, 19 Dec. 2018 This minimal pair is like a universal donor, looking right at home next to every style of sofa, from contemporary tuxedo to traditional Chesterfield. Joanna Linberg, Sunset, 22 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'minimal pair.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of minimal pair was in 1942

Dictionary Entries Near minimal pair

Cite this Entry

“Minimal pair.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/minimal%20pair. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

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