A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants).
Syllables are often considered the phonological "building blocks" of words. They can influence the rhythm of a language, its prosody, its poetic meter and its stress patterns.
Syllabic writing began several hundred years before the first letters. The earliest recorded syllables are on tablets written around 2800 BC in the Sumerian city of Ur. This shift from pictograms to syllables has been called "the most important advance in the history of writing".
A word that consists of a single syllable (like English dog) is called a monosyllable (and is said to be monosyllabic). Similar terms include disyllable (and disyllabic) for a word of two syllables; trisyllable (and trisyllabic) for a word of three syllables; and polysyllable (and polysyllabic), which may refer either to a word of more than three syllables or to any word of more than one syllable.
Famous quotes containing the word syllable:
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
—Victor Hugo (18021885)
“It was a purely wild and primitive American sound, as much as the barking of a chickaree, and I could not understand a syllable of it.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“Seyton. The Queen, my lord, is dead.
Macbeth. She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)