AskDefine | Define consonant

Dictionary Definition

consonant adj
1 involving or characterized by harmony [syn: harmonic, harmonical, harmonized, harmonised, in harmony]
2 in keeping; "salaries agreeable with current trends"; "plans conformable with your wishes"; "expressed views concordant with his background" [syn: accordant, agreeable, conformable, concordant]


1 a speech sound that is not a vowel [ant: vowel]
2 a letter of the alphabet standing for a spoken consonant

User Contributed Dictionary



consonans, sounding with, from prefix con-, with, + present participle sonans, sounding, from sonare, to sound


  • (RP):
  • /ˈkɒnsənənt/
  • /"kQns@n@nt/


  1. In the context of "phonetics": A sound that results from the passage of air through restrictions of the oral cavity; any sound that is not the dominant sound of a syllable, the dominant sound generally being a vowel.
  2. A letter representing the sound of a consonant.


  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: (xiéyīn)
  • Croatian: suglas, suglasnik
  • Czech: souhláska
  • Dutch: medeklinker
  • Esperanto: konsonanto
  • Finnish: konsonantti, kerake
  • French: consonne
  • German: Konsonant, Mitlaut
  • Hebrew: עיצור
  • Hungarian: mássalhangzó
  • Italian: consonante
  • Japanese: 子音 (しいん, shi-in)
  • Polish: spółgłoska
  • Russian: согласный
  • Sanskrit: व्यञ्जन
  • Swedish: konsonant , konsonantljud , medljud (archaic)
  • Telugu: హల్లు (hallu)
  • Vietnamese: phụ âm
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: (yīn)
  • Croatian: suglas, suglasnik
  • Czech: souhláska
  • Dutch: medeklinker
  • Esperanto: konsonanto
  • Finnish: konsonantti, kerake
  • French: consonne
  • German: Konsonant, Mitlaut
  • Hebrew: עיצור
  • Hungarian: mássalhangzó
  • Italian: consonante
  • Japanese: 子音 (しいん, shi-in), 子音字 (しいんじ, shi-in-ji)
  • Russian: согласная (soglásnaja)
  • Sanskrit: व्यञ्जन
  • Swedish: konsonant
  • Telugu: హల్లు (hallu)


  1. Characterized by harmony or agreement.


See also

Extensive Definition

In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the upper vocal tract, the upper vocal tract being defined as that part of the vocal tract that lies above the larynx.
Since the number of consonants in the world's languages is much greater than the number of consonant letters in any one alphabet, linguists have devised systems such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to assign a unique symbol to each attested consonant. In fact, the Latin alphabet, which is used to write English, has fewer consonant letters than English has consonant sounds, so digraphs like "ch", "sh", "th", and "zh" are used to extend the alphabet, and some letters and digraphs represent more than one consonant. For example, many speakers are not aware that the sound spelled "th" in "this" is a different consonant than the "th" sound in "thing". (In the IPA they are transcribed ð and θ, respectively.)

Origin of the term

The word consonant comes from Latin oblique stem cōnsonant-, from cōnsonāns (littera) "sounding-together (letter)", a loan translation of Greek σύμφωνον sýmphōnon. As originally conceived by Plato, sýmphōna were specifically the stop consonants, described as "not being pronounceable without an adjacent vowel sound". Thus the term did not cover continuant consonants, which occur without vowels in a minority of languages, for example at the ends of the English words bottle and button. (The final vowel letters e and o in these words are only a product of orthography; Plato was concerned with pronunciation.)
However, even Plato's original conception of consonant is inadequate for the universal description of human language, since in some languages, such as the Salishan languages, stop consonants may also occur without vowels (see Nuxálk), and the modern conception of consonant does not require cooccurrence with vowels.

Consonantal features

Each consonant can be distinguished by several features: call these "fricative vowels" and say that "they can usually be thought of as syllabic fricatives that are allophones of vowels." That is, phonetically they are consonants, but phonemically they behave as vowels.
Many Slavic languages allow the trill [r̩] and the lateral [l̩] as syllabic nuclei (see Words without vowels), and in languages like Nuxalk, it is difficult to know what the nucleus of a syllable is (it may be that not all syllables have nuclei), though if the concept of 'syllable' applies, there are syllabic consonants in words like /sx̩s/ 'seal fat'.


Ian Maddieson, Patterns of Sounds, Cambridge University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-521-26536-3
consonant in Tosk Albanian: Konsonant
consonant in Franco-Provençal: Consona
consonant in Asturian: Consonante
consonant in Bengali: ব্যঞ্জনধ্বনি
consonant in Breton: Kensonenn
consonant in Catalan: Consonant
consonant in Chuvash: Хупă сасăсем
consonant in Czech: Souhláska
consonant in Welsh: Cytsain
consonant in Danish: Konsonant
consonant in German: Konsonant
consonant in Modern Greek (1453-): Σύμφωνο
consonant in Spanish: Consonante
consonant in Esperanto: Konsonanto
consonant in Persian: صامت
consonant in French: Consonne
consonant in Galician: Consoante
consonant in Kazakh: Дауыссыз дыбыстар
consonant in Korean: 닿소리
consonant in Croatian: Suglasnik
consonant in Ido: Konsonanto
consonant in Indonesian: Konsonan
consonant in Icelandic: Samhljóð
consonant in Italian: Consonante
consonant in Hebrew: עיצור
consonant in Javanese: Konsonan
consonant in Georgian: თანხმოვანი
consonant in Cornish: Kessonenn
consonant in Swahili (macrolanguage): Konsonanti
consonant in Haitian: Konsòn
consonant in Latvian: Līdzskanis
consonant in Lingala: Molelisi
consonant in Hungarian: Mássalhangzó
consonant in Dutch: Medeklinker
consonant in Japanese: 子音
consonant in Norwegian: Konsonant
consonant in Norwegian Nynorsk: Konsonant
consonant in Polish: Spółgłoska
consonant in Portuguese: Consoante
consonant in Romanian: Consoană
consonant in Quechua: Kunkawaki
consonant in Russian: Согласные
consonant in Simple English: Consonant
consonant in Slovak: Spoluhláska
consonant in Slovenian: Soglasnik
consonant in Finnish: Konsonantti
consonant in Swedish: Konsonant
consonant in Thai: พยัญชนะ
consonant in Ukrainian: Приголосний звук
consonant in Walloon: Cossoune
consonant in Chinese: 辅音

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accented, accordant, according, affirmative, agreeable, agreeing, alike, allophone, alveolar, answerable, apical, apico-alveolar, apico-dental, articulated, articulation, aspiration, assimilated, assimilation, assonant, assonantal, at one, attuned, automatic, back, balanced, barytone, bilabial, blended, blending, broad, cacuminal, central, cerebral, check, checked, chiming, close, coexistent, coexisting, coherent, coincident, coinciding, commensurate, compatible, concordant, concurrent, concurring, conformable, congenial, congruent, congruous, consentaneous, consentient, consistent, consonantal, constant, continuant, continuous, cooperating, cooperative, correspondent, corresponding, dental, diphthong, dissimilated, dissimilation, dorsal, en rapport, epenthetic vowel, equable, equal, equivalent, even, explosive, flat, front, glide, glossal, glottal, glottalization, guttural, hard, harmonic, harmonious, harmonizing, heavy, high, homogeneous, homophonic, immutable, in accord, in agreement, in chorus, in concert, in concord, in rapport, in sync, in synchronization, in tune, in unison, inaccordance, inharmony, intonated, invariable, labial, labialization, labiodental, labiovelar, laryngeal, lateral, lax, level, light, like-minded, lingual, liquid, low, manner of articulation, measured, mechanical, methodic, mid, modification, monodic, monolithic, monophonic, monophthong, monophthongal, morphophoneme, mute, muted, narrow, nasal, nasalized, occlusive, of a piece, of like mind, of one mind, on all fours, open, ordered, orderly, oxytone, palatal, palatalized, parasitic vowel, peak, persistent, pharyngeal, pharyngealization, pharyngealized, phone, phoneme, phonemic, phonetic, phonic, pitch, pitched, plosive, positive, posttonic, proportionate, prothetic vowel, reconcilable, regular, retroflex, robotlike, rounded, segmental phoneme, self-consistent, semivowel, smooth, soft, sonant, sonority, speech sound, stable, steadfast, steady, stop, stopped, stressed, strong, surd, syllabic, syllabic nucleus, syllabic peak, syllable, symbiotic, sympathetic, symphonious, synchronized, synchronous, systematic, tense, thick, throaty, tonal, tonic, transition sound, triphthong, tuned, twangy, unaccented, unanimous, unbroken, unchangeable, unchanged, unchanging, undeviating, undifferentiated, undiversified, uniform, unisonant, unisonous, unrounded, unruffled, unstressed, unvaried, unvarying, velar, vibrant, vocable, vocalic, vocoid, voice, voiced, voiced sound, voiceless, voiceless sound, voicing, vowel, vowellike, weak, wide
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