WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
vow•el /ˈvaʊəl/USA pronunciation   n. [countable]
  1. Phoneticsa speech sound, as/i/USA pronunciation  ,/ʊ/USA pronunciation  , or/ɑ/USA pronunciation  , produced without stopping, blocking, or changing the path of the flow of air from the lungs.
  2. Phoneticsa letter or other symbol that represents a vowel sound, as, in English, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y.
See -voc-.
WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
vow•el  (vouəl),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. Phonetics
    • Phonetics(in English articulation) a speech sound produced without occluding, diverting, or obstructing the flow of air from the lungs (opposed to consonant).
    • Phonetics(in a syllable) the sound of greatest sonority, as i in grill. Cf.  consonant (def. 1b).
    • Phonetics(in linguistic function) a concept empirically determined as a phonological element in structural contrast with consonant, as the (ē) of be (bē), we (wē), and yeast (yēst).
  2. Linguistics, Phoneticsa letter representing or usually representing a vowel, as, in English, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y.

  1. Phoneticsof or pertaining to a vowel.
vowel•less, adj. 
vowel•like′, adj. 
vowel•y, vowel•ly, adv. 
  • Latin vōcālis vocal
  • Old French vowel
  • Middle English 1275–1325

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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