Definition of nonsense syllable in US English:

nonsense syllable


  • An arbitrarily formed syllable, as used in memory experiments and tests.

    ‘all participants were asked to learn and retain sets of nonsense syllables’
    • ‘Then they learned to read by pronouncing nonsense syllables formed by combining consonants with vowels, such as ba-he-bi.’
    • ‘The turn to language, moreover, has shifted learning-related research away from many of the older, artificial experimental paradigms - mazes, paired-associate word lists, nonsense syllables, and the rest.’
    • ‘First, reading-aloud accuracy was tested on 40 target syllables (20 isolated nonsense syllables and 20 syllables embedded in words in a text).’
    • ‘To find out, she and colleagues had 182 Harvard students undergo tests in which they listened to repeated strings of nonsense syllables, heard background noise, and saw yellow lights on a video screen.’
    • ‘The test required subjects to determine the identity of nonsense syllables presented in a tachistoscope when, unknown to the subjects, no syllables were present.’