vow·​el | \ˈvau̇(-ə)l \

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 jury is out on whether dating apps like Happn and Grindr are bad for society or simply bad for the future of vowels. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "A Young Man of Strict Nigerian-American Parents Comes of Age While Coming Out," 5 Mar. 2018 The Washington Capitals give us buy-a-vowel blandness. Erik Brady, USA TODAY, "Which Stanley Cup Final city is more sinful, Las Vegas or Washington?," 6 June 2018 For example, Markle’s vowels might still sound American, but the lilt of the sentence might be less so. Cari Romm, The Cut, "Linguists Explain Meghan Markle’s Apparent New British Accent," 10 July 2018 What: Campers receive classical repertoire instruction twice a day, particularly on breathing techniques, vowel formation, choral tone, sight singing, intonation and music theory. Mónica Marie Zorilla, Philly.com, "45 affordable summer camps for kids," 5 June 2018 Previous research has found that baby talk and dog talk are slightly different—for example, dog talk doesn't have vowel exaggeration. National Geographic, "Do Dogs Really Prefer Baby Talk? You Might Be Surprised.," 31 May 2018 Twenty-first century country music doesn't have quite the same reverence for the old warble -- the acute bending of a single vowel into multiple notes and syllables. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Corsicana creates a Lefty Frizzell festival," 23 May 2018 The first two formants, F1 and F2, are instrumental in being able to tell the different vowels apart. Fidel Martinez, latimes.com, "Yanny or Laurel? Why people hear different words," 16 May 2018 People who hear laurel are hearing a syllabic l in the second syllable, which has some similarities to the vowel sound at the end of yanny. Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic, "A Linguist Explains Why 'Laurel' Sounds Like 'Yanny'," 15 May 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vowel

Statistics for vowel

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vowel

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on vowel

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


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!