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First attested in 1654; back-formation from syllabication.


  • enPR: sĭlăʹbĭkāt, IPA(key): /sɪˈlæbɪkeɪt/
  • Hyphenation: syl‧lab‧i‧cate


syllabicate (third-person singular simple present syllabicates, present participle syllabicating, simple past and past participle syllabicated)

  1. to syllabify
    • 1654, Joseph Brooksbank, Plain, brief, and pertinent Rules for the judicious and artificial Syllabication of all English Words, page 27
      To Syllabicate, which is to find out a word by its syllables.
    • 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.


  • Sylla·bicate” listed (immediately preceding “Syllabication”) on page 357 of volume IX, part II (Su–Th) of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles [1st ed., 1919]
      Sylla·bicate, v. rare — °. [Back-formation f. next.] trans. ‘To form into syllables.’ [¶] 1775 Ash Suppl. Hence in later Dicts.
  • syˈllabicate, v.” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd ed., 1989]