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 markings in the scroll suggest it was created long after the original book of Esther was written. Kate S. Petersen, USA TODAY, 26 Apr. 2022 Early players couldn't ascertain how those letters might connect to each other (i.e., trying common consonant and vowel combinations). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 25 Mar. 2022 Specific consonants always appeared at the beginning or end of a word if the word contained a certain vowel. Matthew Hutson, Scientific American, 26 Apr. 2022 English vowel sounds are also different — broader, lazier and more numerous — than those in Ukrainian and Russian. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Through phonics, widely adopted in the 1950s, children learn to read and write primarily by putting individual letter and vowel sounds together. Sam Roberts, New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 Her characters whisper, shout, elongate a vowel or express rhythmic cadence, allowing language to escape the familiar. New York Times, 10 Feb. 2022 Two groups have emerged: those who type in vowel-heavy words first and those who go after common consonants. Joseph Pisani, WSJ, 11 Jan. 2022 That arrangement of three consonants and one vowel has power. Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About vowel

Time Traveler for vowel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near vowel



vowel declension

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for vowel

Last Updated

14 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vowel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vowel. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for 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

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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