WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
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 © 2015
vow•el  (vouəl), 
    • (in English articulation) a speech sound produced without occluding, diverting, or obstructing the flow of air from the lungs (opposed to consonant).
    • (in a syllable) the sound of greatest sonority, as i in grill. Cf.consonant (def. 1b).
    • (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).
  1. Linguistics, Phoneticsa letter representing or usually representing a vowel, as, in English, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y.

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

    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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