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


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

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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

So next, Toth’s colleagues, including zoologist and senior author Stuart Parsons, hope to disentangle the connection between song syllable and bat size. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Like Birds, Some Bats Warble to Woo Their Mates," 13 June 2018 The Byrds are fully willing to participate: McGuinn draws out every syllable for miles with that low, sandy voice. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "The Byrds' 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo': A Track-by-Track Guide Ahead of the 50th Anniversary Tour," 5 June 2018 Photo: Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times/Associated Press With the exception of Mr. Obama, recent presidents have had last names with one or two syllables: Trump, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "The Biggest 2020 Election Question: Whose Name Will Get Mangled Worst?," 14 Feb. 2019 Females tend to prefer elaborate songs with more syllables. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Some Songbirds Have Brains Specially Designed to Find Mates for Life," 13 Feb. 2018 In both words, the emphasis is on the syllable ful. Robert M. Thorson, WSJ, "‘Timefulness’ Review: Thinking in Eons," 30 Dec. 2018 Eugene later confesses, following his trademark pattern of talking as if paid by the syllable. Steve Johnson,, "'The Walking Dead' Season 8 finale recap: An emotional end and a way forward," 16 Apr. 2018 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

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

15 May 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 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

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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 move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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