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First attested in 1829; formed as the Latin syllaba (syllable) + the English -ation; compare the French syllabation and the Medieval Latin syllabō.



syllabation (uncountable)

  1. (rare) syllabification
    • 1829 June 20, F.C. Belfour, “A Dissertation on the Establishment and Present State of the Arabic Press, Both in the East and West” in The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australasia, volume 2 (1830 May–August), page 270
      Its syllabation partakes of the columnal system of the extreme Orientals, the Chinese; and the varied nature of its characters demands the width of at least three parallel lines for their co-arrangement.
    • 1926, Henry Watson Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1st ed., Oxford at the Clarendon Press), page 590, column 2, “syllabize &c.”
      syllabize &c. A verb & a noun are clearly sometimes needed for the notion of dividing words into syllables. The possible pairs seem to be the following (the number after each word means — 1, that it is in fairly common use; 2, that it is on record; 3, that it is not given in OED): — 
       syllabate 3    syllabation 2
       syllabicate 2    syllabication 1
       syllabify 2      syllabification 1
       syllabize 1     syllabization 3
      One first-class verb, two first-class nouns, but neither of those nouns belonging to that verb. It is absurd enough, & any of several ways out would do; that indeed is why none of them is taken. The best thing would be to accept the most recognized verb syllabize, give it the now non-existent noun syllabization, & relegate all the rest to the Superfluous words; but there is no authority both willing & able to issue such decrees.


  • Syllabation” listed on page 357 of volume IX, part II (Su–Th) of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles [1st ed., 1919]
      Syllabation (silăbēi·ʃən). rare. [f. L. syllaba Syllable sb. + -ation. Cf. F. syllabation and Med.L. syllabāre.] = Syllabification. [¶] 1856 Caldwell Compar. Gram. Dravidian 138 The chief peculiarity of Drâvidian syllabation is its extreme simplicity and dislike of compound or concurrent consonants. 1871 Public Sch. Lat. Gram. §11. 5 The following rules are observed in Latin Syllabation.
  • syllabation” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd ed., 1989]