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A sound that has the quality of one of the high vowels, as (ē) or (o͞o), and that functions as a consonant before or after vowels, as the initial sounds of yell and well and the final sounds of coy and cow. Also called glide.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Phonetics & Phonology) a vowel-like sound that acts like a consonant, in that it serves the same function in a syllable carrying the same amount of prominence as a consonant relative to a true vowel, the nucleus of the syllable. In English and many other languages the chief semivowels are (w) in well and (j), represented as y, in yell
2. (Phonetics & Phonology) a frictionless continuant classified as one of the liquids; (l) or (r)
Also called (US and Canadian): glide
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈsɛm ɪˌvaʊ əl)

a speech sound of vowel quality used as a consonant, as (w) in wet or (y) in yet.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.semivowel - a vowellike sound that serves as a consonant
speech sound, phone, sound - (phonetics) an individual sound unit of speech without concern as to whether or not it is a phoneme of some language
palatal - a semivowel produced with the tongue near the palate (like the initial sound in the English word `yeast')
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Some authors employ a superscript turned R, as in [[??]] and [[??]], to indicate a rhotic offglide, although this is not IPA sanctioned.
Word-medial single consonants affected by palatalization are always voiced given that palatalization, a suprasegmental process in Mixean languages, creates an onglide in addition to an offglide. If the first consonant in a word-medial cluster is voiceless and palatalized, no voicing occurs, even though an offglide follows the cluster.
Before final [n] his oe is said to virtually lose the final vocalic offglide and become similar to o.
Britain 1991, 1997a, 1997b) has shown that the adult community in the western Fens have had fully open onsets of (AI) with a front close offglide [[??]I] for some considerable time.
(20) As can be seen in Table 1, in the Selabi dialect, /a/ is accompanied by a rounding offglide, [w]: [kibaw?] 'left side', but the occurrence of [pao] 'thigh' suggests some variation.
The slight differences between the speakers are reflected in U's consistent employing a closer quality of the vowel [o] and M's exhibiting variability, with both closer and more open realisations ([o ~ [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]) Several tokens in the speech of both informants have a slight centring offglide, evident in U's snore, forty ([[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]) and M's four, more, board ([[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]).
Leslau often utilizes a contrastive analysis approach, which English-speaking students will certainly appreciate; e.g., he states that /i/ is like the vowel in English beet, but without the offglide (p.