Hypertext Webster Gateway: "vowel"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Vowel \Vow"el\, n. [F. voyelle, or an OF. form without y, L.
vocalis (sc. littera), from vocalis sounding, from vox,
vocis, a voice, sound. See {Vocal}.] (Phon.)
A vocal, or sometimes a whispered, sound modified by
resonance in the oral passage, the peculiar resonance in each
case giving to each several vowel its distinctive character
or quality as a sound of speech; -- distinguished from a
{consonant} in that the latter, whether made with or without
vocality, derives its character in every case from some kind
of obstructive action by the mouth organs. Also, a letter or
character which represents such a sound. See Guide to
Pronunciation, [sect][sect] 5, 146-149.

Note: In the English language, the written vowels are a, e,
i, o, u, and sometimes w and y. The spoken vowels are
much more numerous.

{Close vowel}. See under {Close}, a.

{Vowel point}. See under {Point}, n.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Vowel \Vow"el\, a.
Of or pertaining to a vowel; vocal.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

n 1: a speech sound made with the vocal tract open [syn: {vowel
sound}] [ant: {consonant}]
2: a letter of the alphabet standing for a spoken vowel

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