Also found in: Wikipedia.


Very rarely, the nucleus of a single syllable may contain three vowel sounds that quickly glide together; these compound sounds are known as triphthongs.
There are three triphthongs that are generally agreed upon in American English: /aʊə/ (“ah-oo-uh”), /aɪə/ (“ah-ih-uh”), and /jʊə/ (“ee-oo-uh”). These always come before an R sound in a word.
Continue reading...


 (trĭf′thông′, -thŏng′, trĭp′-)
A compound vowel sound resulting from the succession of three simple ones and functioning as a unit.

triph·thon′gal (-thông′əl, -thŏng′əl) adj.
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.


(ˈtrɪfθɒŋ; ˈtrɪp-)
1. (Phonetics & Phonology) a composite vowel sound during the articulation of which the vocal organs move from one position through a second, ending in a third
2. (Phonetics & Phonology) a trigraph representing a composite vowel sound such as this
[C16: via New Latin from Medieval Greek triphthongos, from tri- + phthongos sound; compare diphthong]
triphˈthongal adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈtrɪf θɔŋ, -θɒŋ, ˈtrɪp-)

1. a monosyllabic speech-sound sequence made up of three differing vowel qualities, as in some pronunciations of our.
[1590–1600; < New Latin triphthongus < Medieval Greek tríphthongos with three vowels =tri- tri- + phthóngos voice, sound]
triph•thong′al (-gəl) adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


[ˈtrɪfθɒŋ] Ntriptongo m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The problem with their argument is that Aramaic has a long vowel before the gemination, which most likely comes from a collapsed triphthong: *aya > a.
31-32, where two double consonants appear in two successive words, and where the singer must negotiate both a diphthong and a triphthong: "Afferrando la gola dei tuoi pennell." A careful observance of the rolled "r" in "d'eterno" (as noted earlier, Lombardo helps facilitate this compositionally) reinforces the stress on this word.
The result is a triphthong. Alternatively, the formation of triphthongs has been explained by consonant fission (Viitso 2003:191-192).
bold-faced and given as an example of a triphthong.
But the crisp o-umlaut, the light l made by pressing the tongue firmly against upper incisors and gum, the sharply consonantal W followed by a strong, resonant nasal, with tongue hard against hard palate above the upper teeth, and the clearly distinguished three syllables of Wunderbar--the der being fully pronounced, not swallowed any more than the final r--all this contrasts vividly and, for the little Germanophile I had become, triumphantly, with the initial, easy-going diphthong or even triphthong of the English oil with its dark l, succeeded by Wonderful, a smudge of a word, opening with a vowel-sound then trailing off in two murmurs that could hardly be called syllables, especially the last.
So, a diphthong (triphthong) may exist with an embedded h (e.g., sahumerio).
Only one vowel in a diphthong or triphthong may be syllabic in a single syllable.
A triphthong, too, can be the nucleus of a long open first syllable.
The interrelation of tones and segment length appears most clearly in disyllabic opening-diphthong and triphthong series where in both series two pattern pairs out of five patterns participate in regular morphophonological alternations, cf.
balanced 6 letters total = 81 CvC.CvC PIS.TES (44.44) HOWLER vCv.vCv APE.ELE (22.22) EPOUSE 8 letters total = 108 CvvC.CvvC REAT.TAIN (44.44) QUIRKIER vCCv.vCCv ASLA.AGTE(33.33)SA ESQUIPPE 10 letters total = 135 CCvCC.CCvCC PRINT-SHOPS(77.77) TRIPHTHONG CvCvC.CvCvC DESIG.NATED (44.44) TELEWRITER vCvCv.vCvCv URANIUM-ORE None CvvvC.CvvvC vCCCv.vCCCv vvCvv.vvCvv 12 letters total = 162 CCvvCC.CCvvCC CvCCvC.CvCCvC PARCEL-GILDER (55.55) SINFUL.NESSES (81.81) w2 None CvvvvC.CvvvvC vvCCvv.vvCCvv vCvvCv.vCvvCv vCCCCv.vCCCCv
More recently, Bauer (1986) notes that an [ae [??]] pronunciation is also used for the RP triphthong [a[??][??]]; thereby making sow and sour indistinguishable.