Definition of continuant in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈtinyo͞oənt/


1 Phonetics A consonant that is sounded with the vocal tract only partly closed, allowing the breath to pass through and the sound to be prolonged (as with f, l, m, n, r, s, v).
Example sentences
  • The Hebrew-Yiddish /ch/ is a fricative, a continuant (like [s]).
  • The sound /r/ may be either an alveolar continuant or an alveolar tap that is particularly distinct initially (rabbit, run), after stops and fricatives (breathe, grass, three), and between vowels (carry, ferry).
  • Continuants are formed with a vocal tract configuration allowing the airstream to flow through the midsaggital region of the oral tract: stops are produced with a sustained occlusion in this region.
2 Philosophy & Psychology A thing that retains its identity even though its states and relations may change.
Example sentences
  • Self-consciousness arises with the identification of other visuo-tactual continuants as resembling the central body in being the sources of signs.
  • Again, this seems reasonable and not unduly ad hoc, inasmuch as it incorporates the strong pre-theoretical intuition that substances are continuants rather than events.
  • He aptly describes the physical objects we seem to ourselves, and take ourselves, to perceive as ‘visuo-tactual continuants '.


Relating to or denoting a continuant.
Example sentences
  • She had heard about a process called continuant movement that a teacher had done with people who had spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
  • Continuant consonants are fricatives and liquids; i.e., just about everything except nasals, stops and affricates.
  • The ordinary everyday notion of a continuant individual substance is in its own humble terms all right as it is.


Early 17th century (as an adjective in the general sense 'continuing'): from French, from continuer, reinforced by Latin continuant- 'continuing', from the verb continuare, from continuus (see continuous). Current senses date from the 19th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·tin·u·ant

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