Definition of continuant in US English:



  • 1Phonetics
    A consonant which 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).

    • ‘You can stretch continuants like /f/ and hold them until you run out of air.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘The Hebrew-Yiddish /ch/ is a fricative, a continuant (like [s]).’
  • 2Psychology Philosophy
    A thing that retains its identity even though its states and relations may change.

    • ‘He aptly describes the physical objects we seem to ourselves, and take ourselves, to perceive as ‘visuo-tactual continuants '.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Self-consciousness arises with the identification of other visuo-tactual continuants as resembling the central body in being the sources of signs.’
    • ‘Throughout Part III, he distinguishes the ‘occurrent’ from the ‘continuant’ and often discusses change, cause, and continuants with reference to determinates of determinables.’


  • Relating to or denoting a continuant.

    • ‘The ordinary everyday notion of a continuant individual substance is in its own humble terms all right as it is.’
    • ‘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.’


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.