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Borrowed from Latin phōnēticus, from Ancient Greek φωνητῐκός (phōnētikós). By surface analysis, phone +‎ -tic.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /fəˈnɛt.ɪk/
  • (US) IPA(key): /fəˈnɛt.ɪk/, [fəˈnɛɾɪk]
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: pho‧net‧ic


phonetic (not comparable)

  1. Relating to the sounds of spoken language.
  2. (linguistics) Relating to phones (as opposed to phonemes).
  3. (Should we move, merge or split(+) this sense?) Relating to the spoken rather than written form of a word or name, as opposed to orthographic.

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phonetic (plural phonetics)

  1. (linguistics) In such writing systems as the Chinese writing system, the portion of a phono-semantic character that provides an indication of its pronunciation; contrasted with semantic (which is usually the radical).
    • 1887–88, J. Edkins, “The character 眞 true”, in The China Review, volume 16, page 306:
      I suspect that 田 dien is the original character and true phonetic of the whole group.
    • 1984, John DeFrancis, The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy:
      In the first case the character is pronounced identically, even as to tone, as the phonetic.
    • 2013, William S-Y. Wang, Love and War in Ancient China: Voices from the Shijing, page 25:
      Or, the semantic may wrap around the phonetic, or position within the phonetic.