syllable

noun
syl·​la·​ble | \ ˈsi-lə-bəl How to pronounce syllable (audio) \

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

syllable

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

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

Synonyms for syllable

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Second syllable, like a country lane and slightly emphasized. Is the Ghislaine Maxwell trial airing on television or streaming? Mallika Sen, USA TODAY, 21 Dec. 2021 With hindsight, the engagement was merely the opening skirmish of a much more consequential and, from the Spanish point of view, catastrophic battle a month later in and around the nearby village of Annual (emphasis accented on the last syllable). Frederic Wehrey, The New York Review of Books, 18 Dec. 2021 Ruiz Zafón was one of those artists who worried over every syllable. Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2021 Her voice, able to wring an entire diary's worth of highs and lows from a single syllable, remains the focal point, but it's framed in new ways. Maura Johnston, EW.com, 19 Nov. 2021 But more often than not, Lamr rapped with his typically bewildering dexterity, demonstrating a syllable-slinging flair that was mostly absent during other performances from the first day of Day N Vegas. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 13 Nov. 2021 Pattillo mentioned the town of New Berlin, and how people began to stress the first syllable — New BER-lin — instead of the second to differentiate it from its German counterpart. Annie Mattea, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Sep. 2021 Bullock, who signed a three-year deal with Dallas, clarified how his last name is supposed to be pronounced: Bu-lock with the emphasis on the second syllable instead of the first one. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, 27 Aug. 2021 The disruption technique works best if the machine repeats speech a syllable behind the speaker cadence. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 1 Sep. 2021

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for syllable

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

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Time Traveler for syllable

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near syllable

syllabize

syllable

syllabub

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Statistics for syllable

Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Syllable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syllable. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for syllable

syllable

noun

English Language Learners Definition of syllable

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

syllable

noun
syl·​la·​ble | \ ˈsi-lə-bəl How to pronounce syllable (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on syllable

Nglish: Translation of syllable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of syllable for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about syllable

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