AskDefine | Define diaeresis

Dictionary Definition

diaeresis n : a diacritical mark (two dots) placed over a vowel in German to indicate a change in sound [syn: umlaut, dieresis] [also: diaerses (pl), diaereses (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From sc=polytonic.


  • /ˈdaɪə(ɹ)ˌɪisɪs/ /"daI@(r)%i:sIs/ a UK


Alternative spellings


  1. A diacritic placed over a vowel letter indicating that it is sounded separately, usually forming a distinct syllable, as in |naïve, |Noël, |Brontë.
  2. The separation of a vowel, often a diphthong, into two distinct syllables.
  3. A natural break in rhythm when a word ends at the end of a metrical foot, in a line of verse.

Usage notes

  • The umlaut is a usually-identical diacritic which alters the sound of a single vowel (as in German |Schön). Properly speaking, the terms |diaeresis and |umlaut are not interchangeable, though speakers frequently use the term |umlaut to refer to a diaeresis.



  • Chinese: 分音符
  • Dutch: trema, diëresis
  • German: Diärese, Diäresis
  • Greek: διαλυτικά
  • Japanese: 分音符号
  • Korean: 분음 기호
  • Portuguese: diérese
  • Spanish: diéresis

See also

Extensive Definition

In linguistics, diaeresis, or dieresis (US), is the pronunciation of two adjacent vowels in two separate syllables rather than as a diphthong. An example is the first two vowels in cooperate (also spelled co-operate, or dated coöperate). The opposite phenomenon is known as synaeresis.
The word diaeresis comes from Greek διαίρεσις diairesis, noun from verb diairein.


Diaeresis, or trema from French, is also the name of the diacritic mark ( ¨ ) which indicates the separation of two vowels, as in Noël and naïve. (It looks the same as the umlaut, which changes the sound of a single vowel, as in German schön.)
Phonological diaeresis is sometimes indicated with other diacritics, such as the acute accent in Spanish and Portuguese. For example, the Portuguese words saia [ˈsai̯ɐ] "skirt" and saía [saˈiɐ] "I used to leave" (Brazilian pronunciation) differ in that the sequence /ai/ forms a diphthong in the former (synaeresis), but is a hiatus in the latter (diaeresis).



  • Bringhurst, Robert (1992 [2004]). The Elements of Typographic Style, version 3.0. Vancouver, Hartley & Marks. ISBN 0-88179-133-4.
diaeresis in Breton: Diarezenn
diaeresis in German: Diärese
diaeresis in Esperanto: Dierezo
diaeresis in Spanish: Dialefa
diaeresis in Galician: Diérese
diaeresis in Dutch: Trema in de Nederlandse spelling
diaeresis in Portuguese: Diérese
diaeresis in Swedish: Dieresis

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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