AskDefine | Define elide

Dictionary Definition

elide v : leave or strike out; "This vowel is usually elided before a single consonant"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. To break or dash in pieces; to demolish; as, to elide the force of an argument;
  2. To cut off, as a vowel or a syllable, usually the final one.
  3. To omit. "Graham Hough's apparently objective assertion that 'Ozymandias' is 'extremely clear and direct', for example, elides the question of 'to whom?' — Bennet and Royle, An introduction to literature, criticism and theory

Related terms




Extensive Definition

Elision is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce. Sometimes, sounds may be elided for euphonic effect.
Elision is normally unintentional, but it may be deliberate. The result may be impressionistically described as "slurred" or "muted."
An example of deliberate elision occurs in Latin poetry as a stylistic device. Under certain circumstances, such as one word ending in a vowel and the following word beginning in a vowel, the words may be elided together. Elision was a common device in the works of Catullus. For example, the opening line of Catullus 3 is: Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque, but would be read as Lugeto Veneres Cupidinesque.
The elided form of a word or phrase may become a standard alternative for the full form, if used often enough. In English, this is called a contraction, such as can't from cannot. Contraction differs from elision in that contractions are set forms that have morphologized, but elisions are not.
A synonym for elision is syncope, though the latter term is most often associated with the elision of vowels between consonants (e.g., Latin tabula → Spanish tabla). Another form of elision is aphesis, which means elision at the beginning of a word (generally of an unstressed vowel).
Some morphemes take the form of elision. See disfix.
The opposite of elision is epenthesis, whereby sounds are inserted into a word to ease pronunciation.
A special form of elision called ecthlipsis is used in Latin poetry when a word ending in the letter "m" is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, i.e. " mutam nequiquam adloquerer cinerem." = " mutam nequiquadloquerer cinerem." - Catullus 101.
The omission of a word from a phrase or sentence is not elision but ellipsis or, more accurately, elliptical construction.

Written representation

Even though the effort that it takes to pronounce a word does not hold any influence in writing, a word or phrase may be spelled the same as it is spoken, for example, in poetry or in the script for a theatre play, in order to show the actual speech of a character. It may also be used in an attempt to transcribe non-standard speech. Also, some kinds of elision (as well as other phonological devices) are commonly used in poetry in order to preserve a particular rhythm.
In some languages employing the Latin alphabet, such as English, the omitted letters in a contraction are replaced by an apostrophe. Greek, which uses its own alphabet, marks elision in the same way.



Examples of elision in English ():


Elision is extremely common in the pronunciation of the Japanese language. In general, a high vowel (/i/ or /u/) that appears in a low-pitched syllable between two voiceless consonants is devoiced, and often deleted outright. However, unlike French or English, Japanese does not often show elision in writing. The process is purely phonetic, and varies considerably depending on the dialect or level of formality. A few examples (slightly exaggerated; apostrophes added to indicate elision):
Matsushita-san wa imasu ka? ("Is Mr. Matsushita in?")
Pronounced: matsush'tasanwa imas'ka
roku, shichi, hachi ("six, seven, eight")
Pronounced: rok', shich', hach'
Shitsurei shimasu ("Excuse me")
Pronounced: sh'ts'reishimas'
Gender roles also influence elision in Japanese. It is considered masculine to elide, especially the final u of the polite verb forms (-masu, desu), whereas women are traditionally encouraged to do the opposite. However, excessive elision is generally viewed as basilectic, and inadequate elision is seen as overly fussy or old-fashioned. Some nonstandard dialects, such as Satsuma-ben, are known for their extensive elision.


The change of Latin into the Romance languages included a significant amount of elision, especially syncope (loss of medial vowels). In Spanish, for example, we have:
  • tabla from Latin tabula
  • isla from Latin insula (through *isula)
  • alma from Latin anima (with dissimilation of -nm- to -lm-)
  • hembra from Latin femina (with lenition of f- to h-, dissimilation of -mn- to -mr- and then epenthesis of -mr- to -mbr-)


Tamil has a set of rules for elision. They are categorised into classes based on the phoneme where elision occurs.


The consonant in the partitive case ending -ta elides when surrounded by two short vowels, except when the first vowel is paragoge. Otherwise it stays. For example, katto+ta → kattoa, ranta+ta → rantaa, but työ+tä → työtä (not a short vowel), mies+ta → miestä (consonant stem), jousi+ta → jousta (paragogic i on a consonant stem).
elide in Breton: Koazhadur (yezhoniezh)
elide in Bulgarian: Елизия
elide in Catalan: Elisió
elide in Czech: Elize
elide in German: Elision
elide in Spanish: Elisión
elide in Esperanto: Elizio
elide in French: Élision
elide in Galician: Elisión
elide in Ido: Eliziono
elide in Italian: Elisione
elide in Dutch: Elisie
elide in Japanese: エリジオン
elide in Polish: Elizja
elide in Romanian: Eliziune
elide in Russian: Элизия
elide in Finnish: Elisio
elide in Swedish: Elision

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abbreviate, abridge, abstract, bob, boil down, capsulize, cast off, cast out, chuck, clear, clear away, clear out, clear the decks, clip, compress, condense, contract, crop, curtail, cut, cut back, cut down, cut off short, cut out, cut short, deport, discount, dispose of, disregard, dock, eject, eliminate, epitomize, eradicate, exile, expatriate, expel, fail, foreshorten, forget, get quit of, get rid of, get shut of, ignore, liquidate, mow, nip, omit, outlaw, overlook, pass, pick out, poll, pollard, prune, purge, reap, recap, recapitulate, reduce, remove, retrench, root out, root up, shave, shear, shorten, slight, snub, strike off, strike out, stunt, sum up, summarize, synopsize, take in, telescope, throw over, throw overboard, trim, truncate, weed out
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