Borrowed from Latin phōnēticus, from Ancient Greek φωνητῐκός (phōnētikós). 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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Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


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.