pho·​nes·​theme | \ fō-ˈnes-ˌthēm How to pronounce phonestheme (audio) \

Definition of phonestheme

: the common feature of sound occurring in a group of symbolic words He points to a 1929 experiment by Edward Sapir in which Sapir's subjects were asked to match nonsense words with small and large versions of the same object. The subjects tended to match words with a high vowel (such as ee) to the small object and those with a low vowel (such as the o in "cot") to the larger object. British linguist J.R. Firth later called these links between sound and meaning "phonesthemes."— Michael Erard

Other Words from phonestheme

phonesthemic \ fō-​ˌnes-​ˈthē-​mik How to pronounce phonestheme (audio) \ adjective

First Known Use of phonestheme

1930, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phonestheme

blend of phoneme and esthetic

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The first known use of phonestheme was in 1930

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Dictionary Entries Near phonestheme

phone sex


phone tag

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Cite this Entry

“Phonestheme.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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