vow·​el | \ ˈvau̇(-ə)l How to pronounce vowel (audio) \

Definition of vowel

1 : one of a class of speech sounds in the articulation of which the oral part of the breath channel is not blocked and is not constricted enough to cause audible friction broadly : the one most prominent sound in a syllable
2 : a letter or other symbol representing a vowel usually used in English of a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y

Examples of vowel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The vowel stretches here are funny yet still clear. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1419: A smile for the Capitol?," 14 Jan. 2021 As users drag Blobs around the screen, the singers harmonize, changing notes and vowel sounds as snow falls gently around them, teaching both basic music theory and opera in the process. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, "Google's Blob Opera Combines Christmas Carols With Machine Learning: Here's How to Play Around With it," 16 Dec. 2020 Fast, vowel-heavy languages likely transmit more moisture than slower languages with less airflow. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Does Speaking English Spread Coronavirus Quicker?," 11 June 2020 Open any phone book in the Mississippi Delta and all the vowel-ending names give away a time and a place that has mostly been forgotten. Wright Thompson, National Geographic, "What the Mississippi Delta teaches me about home—and hope," 1 June 2020 Furthermore, a living person actively modifies the vocal tract to form any specific vowel; Nesyamun’s experimental sound emerged when his throat was at rest. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "3-D Printing Gives Voice to a 3,000-Year-Old Mummy," 23 Jan. 2020 Tying the progression up with a profane confederation of vowels seemed like the sort of thing a solver might enjoy. New York Times, "Succeed at All of Life’s Endeavors," 12 May 2020 Between 6 and 12 months, your baby is likely starting to babble by stringing together some combinations of consonants and vowels. Vanessa Etienne, New York Times, "Does My Baby Have a Speech Delay?," 18 Apr. 2020 USA TODAY Scientists were able to reproduce a single vowel sound. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "We can now hear the voice of a mummy 3,000 years after the Egyptian priest last spoke," 26 Jan. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vowel

Middle English, from Anglo-French vowele, from Latin vocalis — more at vocalic

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Time Traveler for vowel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for vowel

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vowel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vowel. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for vowel



English Language Learners Definition of vowel

: a speech sound made with your mouth open and your tongue in the middle of your mouth not touching your teeth, lips, etc.
: a letter (such as a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y in English) that represents a vowel


vow·​el | \ ˈvau̇-əl How to pronounce vowel (audio) \

Kids Definition of vowel

1 : a speech sound (as \ə\, \ā\, or \ȯ\) produced without obstruction in the mouth
2 : a letter (as a, e, i, o, u) representing a vowel

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More from Merriam-Webster on vowel

Nglish: Translation of vowel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vowel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about vowel

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