See also: lénition

English edit

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Etymology edit

Analyzable as lenis +‎ -ition,[1] or as if from Latin lēnīt(us) + -ion,[2] or Latin lēnītiō (softening) from lēniō (soften) +‎ -tiō (action noun suffix) (attested since at least the 1500s, the same timeframe lenition is first attested in English with the sense "assuaging"[2]). Modelled on German Lenierung.[1]

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit


lenition (countable and uncountable, plural lenitions)

  1. (phonetics, phonology) A weakening of articulation causing a consonant to become lenis (soft).
    Antonym: fortition
    Coordinate term: assimilation
    • 2001, Robert Stockwell, Donka Minkova, English Words: History and Structure, page 104:
      One of these processes, the process of T-Lenition, is extremely common, even though it takes place only when the input consonant is adjacent to a small number of affixes. In this change, a stopped consonant, [p t k b d g], becomes a fricative, [s, z, š, ž]. This process is called lenition, or weakening.
    • 2001, Lisa M. Lavoie, Consonant Strength: Phonological Patterns and Phonetic Manifestations, page 7:
      Environments are an essential part of any discussion of lenition. Textbooks often describe lenition as occurring in the weak intervocalic or word-final environments. The canonical examples of lenition given earlier in (1) through (3) all occur either between vowels or between sonorants.
    • 2008, Krzysztof Jaskula, Celtic, Joaquim Brandão de Carvalho, Tobias Scheer, Philippe Ségéral (editors), Lenition and Fortition, Studies in Generative Grammar: 99, page 347,
      As for Goidelic languages, the situation is clearer because Lenition III in this subfamily consisted in losing the same property as the first two lenitions, namely stopness.
    • 2011, Naomi Gurevich, 66: Lenition, Marc van Oostendorp, Colin J. Ewen, Elizabeth V. Hume, Keren Rice (editors), The Blackwell Companion to Phonology, Volume III: Phonological Processes, page 1573,
      Five general patterns of lenitions – all based to some extent on empirical data – are identified.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

References edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 lenition”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 lenition”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.

Further reading edit