Diphthong

Diphthong

ˈdipˌTHäNG

Noun

  • A sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves toward another (as in “coin,” “loud,” and “side”).
  • A digraph representing the sound of a diphthong or single vowel (as in “feat”).

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Example Sentences

“Learning and practicing a new diphthong was the most difficult part of her Chinese lesson.”

“The best songwriters account for how the diphthongs of words come out in the music.”

“The speech therapist spent most of the lesson working on diphthongs with the student.”

Word Origin

Greek, mid-15th century

Why this word?

Don’t let the “phth” in this word scare you off — you probably use a diphthong every time you speak. It’s the linguistic term for sliding two vowel sounds together. Even a short word such as “cry” contains a diphthong; the “y” is pronounced with an “i” moving into “ee.” Diphthongs can change to reflect regional dialects and accents within the same language; with a Midwestern American English accent,  for example, “dog” is pronounced with a single “o” sound. But in a New York accent, the diphthong turns into an “aw” sound.

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ˈhoi pəˌloi