Definition of sonorant in US English:



  • A sound produced with the vocal cords so positioned that spontaneous voicing is possible; a vowel, a glide, or a liquid or nasal consonant.

    • ‘Voiced obstruents can stand only before vowels, sonorants and voiced obstruents in the same word.’
    • ‘Initial glottalized sonorants are typically but not invariably pre-glottalized.’
    • ‘Moreover, fricatives can be targeted by the glottal feature, but are optimally realised as sonorants in such cases.’
    • ‘If there were minimal pairs, we would have to conclude that voiced and voiceless sonorants are separate phonemes.’
    • ‘She also found a sex-linked effect with initial sonorants vs. obstruents: obstruents were hotter on males, sonorants on females, though only the female effect was significant.’


1930s: from sonorous + -ant.