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Webster 1913 Edition


Syllable

Syl′la-ble

,
Noun.
[OE.
sillable
, OF.
sillabe
, F.
syllabe
, L.
syllaba
, Gr. [GREEK] that which is held together, several letters taken together so as to form one sound, a syllable, fr. [GREEK] to take together; [GREEK] with + [GREEK] to take; cf. Skr.
labh
,
rabh
. Cf.
Lemma
,
Dilemma
.]
1.
An elementary sound, or a combination of elementary sounds, uttered together, or with a single effort or impulse of the voice, and constituting a word or a part of a word. In other terms, it is a vowel or a diphtong, either by itself or flanked by one or more consonants, the whole produced by a single impulse or utterance. One of the liquids, l, m, n, may fill the place of a vowel in a syllable. Adjoining syllables in a word or phrase need not to be marked off by a pause, but only by such an abatement and renewal, or reenforcement, of the stress as to give the feeling of separate impulses. See Guide to Pronunciation, §275.
2.
In writing and printing, a part of a word, separated from the rest, and capable of being pronounced by a single impulse of the voice. It may or may not correspond to a syllable in the spoken language.
Withouten vice [i. e. mistake] of
syllable
or letter.
Chaucer.
3.
A small part of a sentence or discourse; anything concise or short; a particle.
Before any
syllable
of the law of God was written.
Hooker.
Who dare speak
One
syllable
against him?
Shakespeare

Syl′la-ble

,
Verb.
T.
To pronounce the syllables of; to utter; to articulate.
Milton.

Webster 1828 Edition


Syllable

SYL'LABLE

,
Noun.
[L. syllaba; Gr. to comprehend, and to take.]
1.
A letter, or a combination of letters, uttered together, or at a single effort or impulse of the voice. A vowel may form a syllable by itself, as a, the definitive, or in amen; e in even; o in over, and the like. A syllable may also be formed of a vowel and one consonant, as in go, do, in, at; or a syllable may be formed by a vowel with two articulations, one preceding, the other following it, as in can, but, tun; or a syllable may consist of a combination of consonants, with one vowel or diphthong, as strong, short, camp, voice.
A syllable sometimes forms a word, and is then significant, as in go, run, write, sun, moon. In other cases, a syllable is merely part of a word, and by itself is not significant. Thus ac, in active, has no signification.
At least one vowel or open sound is essential to the formation of a syllable; hence in every word there must be as many syllables as there are single vowels, or single vowels and diphthongs. A word is called according to the number of syllables it contains, viz.
Monosyllable, a word of one syllable.
Dissyllable, a word of two syllables.
Trisyllable, a word of three syllables.
Polysyllable, a word of many syllables.
2.
A small part of a sentence or discourse; something very concise. This account contains not a syllable of truth.
Before a syllable of the law of God was written.

SYL'LABLE

,
Verb.
T.
To utter; to articulate. [Not used.]

Definition 2023


syllable

syllable

English

Alternative forms

Noun

syllable (plural syllables)

  1. (linguistics) A unit of human speech that is interpreted by the listener as a single sound, although syllables usually consist of one or more vowel sounds, either alone or combined with the sound of one or more consonants; a word consists of one or more syllables.
    • 2007, Don DeLillo, Underworld: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Scribner Classics, ISBN 978-1-4165-9585-4, page 543:
      I wanted to look up velleity and quotidian and memorize the fuckers for all time, spell them, learn them, pronounce them syllable by syllable—vocalize, phonate, utter the sounds, say the words for all they're worth.
  2. The written representation of a given pronounced syllable.
  3. A small part of a sentence or discourse; anything concise or short; a particle.
    • Hooker
      Before any syllable of the law of God was written.
    • Shakespeare
      Who dare speak / One syllable against him?

Derived terms

Translations

Verb

syllable (third-person singular simple present syllables, present participle syllabling, simple past and past participle syllabled)

  1. (transitive, poetic) To utter in syllables.
    Aery tongues that syllable men's names Milton.

Translations