Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

vowel /ˈvaʊəl/ n
  1. a voiced speech sound whose articulation is characterized by the absence of friction-causing obstruction in the vocal tract, allowing the breath stream free passage. The timbre of a vowel is chiefly determined by the position of the tongue and the lips
  2. a letter or character representing a vowel
Etymology: 14th Century: from Old French vouel, from Latin vocālis littera a vowel, from vocālis sonorous, from vox a voice

ˈvowel-ˌlike adj

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