Chrome 2001
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
. .
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001
Medical Dictionary
Medical Dictionary
Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary

Explanatory Notes

Back to Search

[Pronunciation] [Syllables] [Stress] [Variant Pronunciations]
[Parentheses in Pronunciations] [Partial and Absent Pronunciations]
[Pronunciation of Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols]

Pronunciation is contained within the Pronunciation field or within reversed virgules when it refers to a variant, inflected form, or run-on entry. Explanations of the symbols used are given in the Guide to Pronunciation.

A hyphen is used in the pronunciation to show syllabic division. These hyphens sometimes coincide with the dots in the entry word that indicate end-of-line division; sometimes they do not:

ab.scess \'ab-"ses\

¹met.ric \'me-trik\

A high-set mark \ ' \ indicates primary (strongest) stress or accent; a low-set mark \ " \ indicates secondary (medium) stress or accent:

ear.ache \'i(&)r-"Ak\

The stress mark stands at the beginning of the syllable that receives the stress.

The presence of variant pronunciations indicates that not all educated speakers pronounce words the same way. A second- or third-place variant is not to be regarded as less acceptable than the pronunciation that is given first. It may, in fact, be used by as many educated speakers as the first variant, but the requirements of written English make one precede the other:

oral \'Or-&l, 'or-, 'är-\ \"&m-'bil-i-k&s, "&m-b&-'lI-\

A variant that is appreciably less common than the preceding variant is preceded by the word also:

se.nile \'sEn-"Il also 'sen-\

Sometimes a geographical label precedes a variant:

meth.ane \'meth-"An, British usually 'mE-"thAn\

Symbols enclosed by parentheses represent elements that are present in the pronunciation of some speakers but are absent from the pronunciation of other speakers, elements that are present in some but absent from other utterances of the same speaker, or elements whose presence or absence is uncertain:

neu.ral \'n(y)ur-&l\

re.sponse \ri-'spän(t)s\

When a main entry has less than a full pronunciation, the missing part is to be supplied from a pronunciation in a preceding entry or within the pronunciation field:

psy.cho.sur.gery \-'s&rj-(&-)rE\ \"vit-&l-'I-(")gO also -'E-

The pronunciation of the first two syllables of psychosurgery is found at the main entry psychosurgeon:

psy.cho.sur.geon \"sI-kO-'s&r-j&n\

The hyphens before and after \'E\ in the pronunciation of vitiligo indicate that both the first and the last parts of the pronunciation are to be taken from the immediately preceding pronunciation.

When a variation of stress is involved, a partial pronunciation may be terminated at the stress mark which stands at the beginning of a syllable not shown:

li.gate \'lI-"gAt, lI-'\

In general, no pronunciation is indicated for open compounds consisting of two or more English words that have own-place entry:

lateral collateral ligament noun

A pronunciation is shown, however, for any element of an open compound that does not have entry at its own alphabetical place:

Meiss.ner's corpuscle \'mIs-n&rz-\

Only the first entry in a sequence of numbered homographs is given a pronunciation if their pronunciations are the same:

¹sig.moid \'sig-"moid\

²sigmoid noun

The pronunciation of unpronounced derivatives and compounds run on at a main entry is a combination of the pronunciation at the main entry and the pronunciation of the suffix or final element.

Pronunciations are not usually shown for entries with the functional labels abbreviation or symbol since they are usually spoken by saying the individual letters in sequence or by giving the expansion. The pronunciation is given only if there is an unusual and unexpected way of saying the abbreviation or symbol:

ICU abbreviation intensive care unit

Al symbol aluminum

CABG\'kab-ij\ abbreviation coronary artery bypass graft

Acronyms (as DNA and NSAID) and compounds (as ACE inhibitor) consisting of an acronym and a word element which have one of the traditional parts of speech labels (usually noun, adjective, adverb, or verb in this product) are given a pronunciation even when the word is spoken by pronouncing the letters in sequence:

DNA \"dE-"en-'A\ noun

ACE inhibitor \'As-, "A-(")sE-'E-\ noun

NSAID \'en-"sed also -"sAd\ noun

[Top of Page]

[Pronunciation] [Syllables] [Stress] [Variant Pronunciations]
[Parentheses in Pronunciations] [Partial and Absent Pronunciations]
[Pronunciation of Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols]

Look Up A Word:

Explanatory Notes | Pronunciation Guide | Help

© 2012 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.