syl·​la·​ble | \ ˈsi-lə-bəl \

Definition of syllable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


syllabled; syllabling\ ˈsi-​lə-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of syllable (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Synonyms for syllable

Synonyms: Noun

beans, bubkes (also bupkes), continental, damn, darn (also durn), diddly [slang], diddly-squat [slang], doodley-squat (or doodly-squat), fig, ghost, hoot, iota, jot, lick, modicum, rap, squat [slang], tittle, whit, whoop

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Examples of syllable in a Sentence


The word “doctor” has two syllables. “Doctor” is a two-syllable word. The first syllable of the word “doctor” is given stress.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

With a few exceptions, the top 10 boys names tend to be a short, punchy two syllables: Jackson, Liam, Noah, Aiden, Caden, Grayson, Lucas, Mason, Oliver, and Elijah. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "These Are the Most Popular Baby Names of 2018 for Boys and Girls," 29 Nov. 2018 Ah, to enjoy Myles without counting syllables Left-right brain movement -- C. Rucker *** Follow James Freeman on Twitter. James Freeman, WSJ, "The American Wage Boom," 31 Oct. 2018 The 1950s and the earlier 1960s were the era of cheerful-sounding one syllable nicknames like Jim, Mike, Bob and Bill, reflecting a time when parents were more concerned with fitting in than standing out, Ms. Wattenberg said. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "How Bad Is the Jacob Glut? Half Your Staff Must Be Renamed," 3 Oct. 2018 In the Liberal accent, speakers stress their syllables somewhere in between English and Spanish. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "This Town In Kansas Has Its Own Unique Accent," 18 June 2018 Most swamp swallows sang the same tunes, using the same common syllables, but there were a few rare types in each population, just as there are variations in human oral histories over time. Victoria Davis, Science | AAAS, "This swamp sparrow’s song is more than 1500 years old," 20 June 2018 Keweenaw Put the long E sound in the first syllable, not the second. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "25 Michigan roads, destinations you're probably saying wrong," 27 June 2018 The syllables in their names held memories and told stories. Glynn Pogue, Vogue, "In Defense of Cardi B’s Baby Name," 13 July 2018 Even when the host nation is not playing, those three syllables are noisily spouted morning and night by energetic fans of all ages. Amie Ferris-rotman, Washington Post, "For the World Cup, the Russian people are all in, win or lose," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'syllable.' 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 syllable


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for syllable


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

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Dictionary Entries near syllable








Statistics for syllable

Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for syllable

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

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More Definitions for syllable



English Language Learners Definition of syllable

: any one of the parts into which a word is naturally divided when it is pronounced


syl·​la·​ble | \ ˈsi-lə-bəl \

Kids Definition of syllable

1 : a unit of spoken language that consists of one or more vowel sounds alone or with one or more consonant sounds coming before or following
2 : one or more letters (as syl, la, and ble) in a written word (as syl*la*ble) usually separated from the rest of the word by a centered dot or a hyphen and used as guides to the division of the word at the end of a line

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Comments on syllable

What made you want to look up syllable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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