Definition of consonant in English:



  • 1A basic speech sound in which the breath is at least partly obstructed and which can be combined with a vowel to form a syllable.

    ‘fricatives are by far the largest group of English consonants’
    Contrasted with vowel
    • ‘Obviously, you haven't heard me brutalize the combinations of consonants and vowels that sound so exquisite when spoken by a Chinese.’
    • ‘The accumulated differences in the vowels, consonants, and syllable lengths gives dramatic speech a totally different pace.’
    • ‘After blending consonants and vowels, syllables are blended into words and words are used in meaningful sentences.’
    • ‘Still the dominant phonetic presence is of light vowels and soft consonants, a bright but increasingly fragile idyll asking to be shattered.’
    • ‘He had a wonderful provincial accent, with all the ‘wrong’ vowels and unexpected extra consonants, which made the simplest word mysterious to my ears and his tales fun to hear for even the tenth time.’
    • ‘Because the learner has become competent with the short vowels, consonants, and consonant blends, he or she can now concentrate on mastering the long-vowel spelling forms.’
    • ‘He appears to have identified certain vowels and consonants that do not exist in French and used them repeatedly throughout the two songs.’
    • ‘The preference for open syllables which end in vowels rather than consonants may, however, derive from universal developmental tendencies as well as from substratum influence.’
    • ‘There are many assimilations and elisions of consonants and vowels, such as the dropping of t in such words as cyclists, the reduction of and to n, or the compression of such auxiliary sequences as gonna and wouldn'a'been.’
    • ‘The word spilled out of her in a hushed stream of syllables, that awful combination of consonants and vowels that spelled shame and death for any woman in what was politely called the ‘entertainment’ business.’
    • ‘It is comprised of about twice as many consonants and vowels as English and has eight tones.’
    • ‘Slovak, like other Slavic languages, has diacritical marks that govern the pronunciation of both consonants and vowels.’
    • ‘When his operas are sung in any other language, the shift in vowels, consonants, and rhythms changes the character of the music.’
    • ‘I have never, for instance, heard a speaker of English condemn the nasal vowels or the dropped consonants of the French language.’
    • ‘Finnish is characterized by the use of many vowels and few consonants.’
    • ‘It doesn't have an inordinate number of consonants or vowels.’
    • ‘Most of the vowels and consonants that do not occur at the ends of words have pronunciations similar to those of western European languages, but there are some differences.’
    • ‘The prototypical noun may be (though need not be) quite long, stress will fall early in the word, the stressed vowel will be non-front, and the final consonant (if an obstruent) will be voiceless.’
    • ‘Nepali has twelve vowel sounds and 36 consonants.’
    • ‘Articulation in singing is produced by such techniques as portamento or the taking of breaths, and by the treatment of vowels and consonants.’
    1. 1.1A letter representing a consonant.
      • ‘On the other hand, knowing that the first letter is a consonant, although still helpful, merely informs the solver which of the three consonants to put at the beginning of the solution word.’
      • ‘The remaining 30 words included a silent consonant as the final letter of each word.’
      • ‘This means his name contains 8 vowels and 6 consonants so the question is so valid.’
      • ‘He had written but one word, three consonants and a single vowel.’
      • ‘Since each language has its own way of voicing the consonants and the vowels, names of places as pronounced by locals in their native language seldom sound the same to an outsider.’
      • ‘He investigated how vowels and consonants alternated in the opening chapters of the long story and the poem and discovered a fascinating regularity.’
      • ‘She misses opportunities to color the text, eviscerating the crisp, plosive consonants and long fruity vowels of the kind of seductive, excess and affective precision that would conform to the interpretive agenda of the period.’
      • ‘If you thought the infinite variations on the ubiquitous sideways smiley faces were getting a bit difficult to decipher, you may be feeling lost in a seemingly meaningless sea of vowels and consonants.’
      • ‘In all of these cases, the deft repetitions and modulations of consonants and vowels with their subtle assonance and consonance compete for attention with the lines' actual content.’
      • ‘Unlike the English alphabet of 26 letters, the Tlingit language has at least 32 consonants and eight vowels.’
      • ‘This alphabet was small, consisting of 14 consonants, and 3 vowels.’
      • ‘The children were asked to match speech sounds to written consonants and vowels, and they practiced related skills.’
      • ‘Keep monthly writing samples so you can observe how students gradually add the correct vowels and consonants.’
      • ‘Each syllable is written as a combination of consonants and vowels, plus the tone mark.’
      • ‘North Korea inherited this modern form of Korean vernacular script consisting of nineteen consonants and twenty-one vowels.’
      • ‘Then they learned to read by pronouncing nonsense syllables formed by combining consonants with vowels, such as ba-he-bi.’


  • 1[attributive] Denoting or relating to a consonant.

    ‘a consonant phoneme’
    • ‘He identified it as consonant with his team's research results on the nature of distress in close relationships.’
    • ‘The high-frequency deficit causes difficulty in perceiving and differentiating consonant sounds; patients often report that words ‘run together.’’
    • ‘Infant babbling, the stringing together of vowel and consonant sounds, is an important stage in the eventual development of language.’
    • ‘As society has come to understand the essential unchosen nature of same-sex desire, the offering of new forms of matrimony that support such couples would seem consonant with a contemporary sense of justice and social responsibility.’
    • ‘When it is consonant with the covenant identity, then the meal practice also properly enacts and proclaims Jesus' death.’
    • ‘The identity of the Son is consonant with the identity of God the Father as the God of Israel.’
    • ‘Gay marriage is, obviously, completely consonant with liberal aspirations to make marriage something that everyone can aspire to.’
    • ‘While the consonant cards each represent a single letter, the vowel cards give a choice of two vowels and the wild cards represent any letter.’
    • ‘But the language doesn't have a lot of syllables that crucially have to be written ending in a consonant letter.’
    • ‘Students in the low-level group were not reading words but were learning letter names and sounds, and how to blend consonant and vowel sounds to make syllables.’
    • ‘The average frequency was 7.5 per million for the vowel words and 7.9 per million for the consonant words.’
    • ‘His contribution to the study of errors in apical consonant articulation are world famous.’
    • ‘When my daughter, Isabel, was just beginning to talk, there were many things she wanted to say but couldn't because the words she needed contained consonant sounds that were too difficult.’
    • ‘It's meant for specialists who can follow all the details about the vowel and consonant changes.’
    • ‘The consistency of pronunciation of the consonant ending can be illustrated with the words ending with s.’
    • ‘I agree with his judgments about ‘roofs’ - that's the only way to spell it, but I can pronounce it either way, likewise with the correlation between vowel quality and consonant voicing.’
    • ‘Almost all of the novice teachers spent time working on lax or short vowel sounds, tense or long vowel sounds, and consonant digraphs; on the closed syllable type; and on decoding words with a variety of closed syllable patterns.’
    • ‘The core phonology is shared by all speakers of the language, while the Anglicized phonology makes the most of the consonant and vowel distinctions in English.’
    • ‘Even consonant sounds change with context; the ‘t’ sounds different in ‘cat’ than it does in ‘the.’’
    • ‘‘We're kind of naturally wired into consonant sounds,’ he said.’
    • ‘On the letter-sound test, most children began tutoring knowing single consonant sounds, but had relatively little knowledge of sounds for vowels or letter patterns.’
    • ‘The following lesson took place during a typical reading activity in one classroom in which the teacher introduced consonant digraphs and then elicited examples of words with consonant digraphs.’
    • ‘Because the learner has become competent with the short vowels, consonants, and consonant blends, he or she can now concentrate on mastering the long-vowel spelling forms.’
    • ‘Morphological words for which the feminine form revealed the silent consonant ending were spelled more easily than morphological words for which the derivatives were other nouns or verbs.’
    • ‘From about 1600, however, they were gradually separated over a period of more than two centuries into the vowel letters i, u and the consonant letters j, v.’
  • 2In agreement or harmony with.

    ‘the findings are consonant with other research’
    • ‘Secondly, whatever is consonant with scripture, may be proved by scripture: but there are many things not dissonant from scripture which cannot be proved by it.’
    • ‘Only when these three kinds of education are consonant and make for the same end, does a man tend towards his true goal.’
    • ‘Even when the editor's observations are not consonant with the latest research (a rarity) they can become new starting points of discussion.’
    • ‘The witness of the Scriptures is consonant with a view that rejects homosexual practice of any kind, and that marriage between a man and a woman in life-long union remains the only appropriate place for sexual relations.’
    • ‘To support a science that is ‘consonant’ with religion is not to claim that religion and science are the same thing.’
    • ‘For instance, SWAP'S support of alternative research methodologies is consonant with the multiplicity of methods used by members of the History and Theory Section.’
    • ‘Dick doesn't like to fly, and he had no particular desire to go there, and since we had pretty consonant views and I wanted to go to England anyway, we decided to write a joint paper.’
    in agreement with, agreeing with, consistent with, in accordance with, accordant with, consilient with, in harmony with, compatible with, congruous with, in tune with, reconcilable with
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Music Making a harmonious interval or chord.
      ‘the bass is consonant with all the upper notes’
      • ‘The work began to display a tendency towards regular rhythmic pulse, consonant intervals and an impertinent use of the then forbidden octave.’
      • ‘In the 6th century B.C. Pythagoras observed that simple ratios of lengths of strings determine consonant musical intervals.’
      • ‘And chords are groups of more or less consonant sounds which counterpoint has united!’
      • ‘PET (positron emission tomography) imaging conducted while subjects listened to consonant or dissonant chords showed that different localized brain regions were involved in the emotional reactions.’
      • ‘There is a misconception here, since Wagner's practice was rather to use such unstable sonorities to enhance the music's eventual arrival at points of tonal clarity and consonant harmonic stability.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘letter representing a consonant’): via Old French from Latin consonare sound together, from con- with + sonare to sound (from sonus sound).