Definition of triphthong in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtrɪfθɒŋ//ˈtrɪpθɒŋ/


  • 1A union of three vowels (letters or sounds) pronounced in one syllable (as in fire).

    Contrasted with diphthong, monophthong
    • ‘The vowels in fire and power are triphthongs.’
    • ‘Diphthongs and triphthongs do not come into the picture at all.’
    • ‘Leaving the triphthongs aside for now, when diphthongs occur, they vary, causing new phonemes to arise.’
    • ‘It does look more like a triphthong than a diphthong, but the middle sound is high-central or even high-back.’
    • ‘Words such as course and force are sometimes realized with a triphthong //, especially among older speakers.’
    1. 1.1 Three written vowel characters representing the sound of a single vowel (as in beau).
      • ‘For one, there is no such thing as a triphthong in Latin.’
      • ‘Vowels, diphthongs, triphthongs and consonants are taught using the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) for the purpose of eliminating regional characteristics in the student's speech pattern.’
      • ‘If two or three strong vowels are together, they do not produce the single diphthong or triphthong sound and are instead pronounced as separate syllables: fea, leo, lee, peleándose and Isaac should be pronounced, Is-a-a-c.’


Mid 16th century: from French triphtongue, from tri- ‘three’, on the pattern of diphthong.