Definition of phonetic
1 : representing the sounds and other phenomena of speech: such asa : constituting an alteration of ordinary spelling that better represents the spoken language, that employs only characters of the regular alphabet, and that is used in a context of conventional spellingb : representing speech sounds by means of symbols that have one value onlyc : employing for speech sounds more than the minimum number of symbols necessary to represent the significant differences in a speaker's speech
2a : of or relating to spoken language or speech soundsb : of or relating to the science of phonetics
phoneticallyplay \fə-ˈne-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
Examples of phonetic in a Sentence
the phonetic units of a language
This dictionary uses the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Spanish is a more phonetic language than English.
Recent Examples of phonetic from the Web
But even as MRSA searches became more common, so did searches for mersa — the bug’s phonetic spelling.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phonetic'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
The English alphabet is phonetic—that is, the letters represent sounds. The Chinese alphabet, however, isn't phonetic, since its symbols represent ideas rather than sounds. But even in English, a letter doesn't always represent the same sound; the "a" in cat, father, and mate, for example, represents three different sounds. Because of this, books about words often use specially created phonetic alphabets in which each symbol stands for a single sound in order to represent pronunciations.
Origin and Etymology of phonetic
New Latin phoneticus, from Greek phōnētikos, from phōnein to sound with the voice, from phōnē voice
First Known Use: 1802
PHONETIC Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of phonetic for English Language Learners
: of or relating to spoken language, speech sounds, or the science of phonetics
: representing each speech sound with a single symbol
: using a system of written symbols that represent speech sounds in a way that is very close to how they actually sound
PHONETIC Defined for Kids
Definition of phonetic for Students
: of or relating to spoken language or speech sounds
Seen and Heard
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