syllable

1 of 2

noun

syl·​la·​ble ˈsi-lə-bəl How to pronounce syllable (audio)
1
: a unit of spoken language that is next bigger than a speech sound and consists of one or more vowel sounds alone or of a syllabic consonant alone or of either with one or more consonant sounds preceding or following
2
: one or more letters (such as syl, la, and ble) in a word (such as syl*la*ble) usually set off from the rest of the word by a centered dot or a hyphen and roughly corresponding to the syllables of spoken language and treated as helps to pronunciation or as guides to placing hyphens at the end of a line
3
: the smallest conceivable expression or unit of something : jot
4

syllable

2 of 2

verb

syllabled; syllabling ˈsi-lə-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce syllable (audio)

transitive verb

1
: to give a number or arrangement of syllables to (a word or verse)
2
: to express or utter in or as if in syllables

Examples of syllable in a Sentence

Noun The word “doctor” has two syllables. “Doctor” is a two-syllable word. The first syllable of the word “doctor” is given stress.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The researchers also identified which electrodes were critical for interpreting specific syllables and found that similar patterns of electrode use were best explained by similar-sounding syllables. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 20 May 2024 There aren’t a lot of words in the lyrics that last more than two syllables. Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant, 19 Feb. 2024 But the pitch started sinking, the volume dimmed and syllables began to drop out like a radio not quite tuned to frequency. Dessa Dessa Tanya Pérez Alec K. Redfearn, New York Times, 12 June 2024 The rest were assigned to Japanese syllables or left blank. IEEE Spectrum, 28 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for syllable 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'syllable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French sillabe, silable, from Latin syllaba, from Greek syllabē, from syllambanein to gather together, from syn- + lambanein to take — more at latch

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of syllable was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near syllable

Cite this Entry

“Syllable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syllable. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

syllable

noun
syl·​la·​ble
ˈsil-ə-bəl
1
: a unit of spoken language that consists of one or more vowel sounds alone or with one or more consonant sounds preceding or following
2
: one or more letters (as syl, la, and ble) in a word (as syl*la*ble) usually set off from the rest of the word by a centered dot or a hyphen and treated as guides to division at the end of a line

More from Merriam-Webster on syllable

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