Share this entry
diphthong Syllabification: diph·thong
Pronunciation: /ˈdifˌTHäNG/

Definition of diphthong in English:


1A 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). Often contrasted with monophthong, triphthong.
Example sentences
  • The language has a musical quality and employs a great number of diphthongs and other vowel combinations.
  • Density is thus largely a function of word stock and reflects at this stage in Coolidge's work an affinity for monosyllabic words, particularly those that couple long vowels or diphthongs with consonant blends.
  • Most Modern English vowels are diphthongs, so obeying the ‘one sound, one letter’ rule demands either pairing of vowel letters or replacing all our current vowel sounds with the fewer pure sounds, as in Italian and Spanish.
1.1A digraph representing the sound of a diphthong or single vowel (as in feat).
Example sentences
  • The Pali alphabet used for written Burmese is made up of eight vowels, three diphthongs, 32 consonants, and several tones.
  • However, all subsequent authors except Meek have used the diphthong, so Archaeocyathus is now treated as a justified emendation of Billings' original spelling.
1.2A compound vowel character; a ligature (such as æ).


Pronunciation: /difˈTHôNG(ɡ)əl/
Example sentences
  • These three models all crucially contribute to my explanation of variation and changes currently observed in the diphthongal system of Seoul Korean.
  • They are represented by two letters, one indicating the start of the diphthongal movement, the other indicating its end or general direction.
  • Otherwise the dialect is solidly Midland, and aside from Germanisms bears a close affinity with the Philadelphia area, such as in its use of diphthongal long O and long A.


Late Middle English: from French diphtongue, via late Latin from Greek diphthongos, from di- 'twice' + phthongos 'voice, sound'.

Definition of diphthong in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources