sib·​i·​lant | \ ˈsi-bə-lənt How to pronounce sibilant (audio) \

Definition of sibilant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having, containing, or producing the sound of or a sound resembling that of the s or the sh in sash a sibilant affricate a sibilant snake



Definition of sibilant (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sibilant speech sound (such as English \s\, \z\, \sh\, \zh\, \ch(=tsh)\, or \j(=dzh)\)

Other Words from sibilant


sibilantly adverb

Examples of sibilant in a Sentence

Adjective the sibilant hiss of a snake
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Mammoth handles those frequencies without ever being harsh or sibilant, yet the sound is never woolly or muffled. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 Mandarin Chinese, for example, is packed with sibilant and strident sounds like English, where air is pushed with more force through the mucus membranes. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 11 June 2020 The five-minute piece, written by Jason Eckardt, consists of cries, truncated syllables and sharp sibilant sounds that appear to resemble someone angrily shushing herself. New York Times, 21 Nov. 2019 Here Comes the Sun’ (RCA/Victor, 1971) A stark, sibilant cover with abundant harp and tape hiss, Nina Simone’s take on the Beatles was a mainstay of early mornings (and afternoons) at Loft parties. Aaron Gonsher, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2020 Descriptions of the trend pioneered by the siblings were sibilant: soccer-style, sidewinder, sidesaddle. Michael Farber,, 2 July 2018 But Jones has just bumped through a remarkable house set, the room is as crowded as it's been all weekend and the German minimal techno DJ Michael Mayer is opening his set with a sibilant cluster of synths and dots of midrange melody. Randall Roberts,, 23 Apr. 2018 When a semi-celebrity graduate of their program is mentioned, the girls hiss her name in sibilant wonder and envy. New York Times, 8 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The insectivorous choruses actually synchronize their sibilant symphonies in a deafening, but gorgeous, hum. Ross Kenneth Urken, Scientific American, 14 June 2021

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

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First Known Use of sibilant


1669, in the meaning defined above


1788, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sibilant


Latin sibilant-, sibilans, present participle of sibilare to hiss, whistle, of imitative origin

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The first known use of sibilant was in 1669

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Cite this Entry

“Sibilant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sibilant



English Language Learners Definition of sibilant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: making or having a sound like the letters s or sh



English Language Learners Definition of sibilant (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sibilant sound (such as \s\ or \z\)


sib·​i·​lant | \ ˈsib-ə-lənt How to pronounce sibilant (audio) \

Medical Definition of sibilant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having, containing, or producing the sound of or a sound resembling that of the s or sh in sash a sibilant speech sound sibilant breathing sibilant rales



Medical Definition of sibilant (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sibilant speech sound (as English \s\, \z\, \sh\, \zh\, \ch(=t + sh)\, or \j(=d + zh)\)

More from Merriam-Webster on sibilant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sibilant

Britannica English: Translation of sibilant for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sibilant


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