AskDefine | Define sonorous

Dictionary Definition

sonorous adj : full and loud and deep; "heavy sounds"; "a herald chosen for his sonorous voice" [syn: heavy]

User Contributed Dictionary



From sonorus from sonor sound


  • italbrac RP /ˈsɒn.ər.əs/
  • italbrac US /ˈsɑːn.ɚ.əs/ ''or' /ˈsoʊ.nə.rəs


  1. Capable of giving out a deep, resonant sound.
  2. Full of sound and rich, as in language or verse.
  3. Wordy or grandiloquent.


capable of giving out a deep resonant sound
  • Finnish: sointuva, soinnikas
full of sound and rich, as in language or verse
  • Finnish: sointuva
wordy or grandiloquent
  • Finnish: mahtipontinen, ponteva

Extensive Definition

A sonority hierarchy or sonority scale is a ranking of speech sounds (or phones) by amplitude. For example, if you say the vowel [a], you will produce much louder sound than if you say the plosive [t]. Sonority hierarchies are especially important when analyzing syllable structure; rules about what segments may appear in onsets or codas together, such as SSP, are formulated in terms of the difference of their sonority values. Some languages also have assimilation rules based on sonority hierarchy, for example, the Finnish potential mood (e.g. -tne- → -nne-).
Sonority hierarchies vary somewhat in which sounds are grouped together. The one below is fairly typical:

Sonority scale

In English, the sonority scale, from lowest to highest, is the following:
It should be noted that more finely nuanced hierarchies often exist within classes whose members cannot be said to be distinguished by relative sonority. In North American English, for example, of the set /p t k/, /t/ is by far the most subject to weakening when before a vowel not stressed (v. the usual American pronunciation of /t/ as a flap in later, but normally no weakening of /p/ in caper or of /k/ in faker). Similarly, Romance languages often show geminate /mm/ to be weaker than /nn/. In such cases, many phonologists refer not to sonority, but to a more abstract notion of relative strength, which, while once posited as universal in its arrangement, is now known to be language specific.


sonorous in Breton: Skeul an hesonerezh
sonorous in German: Sonoritätshierarchie
sonorous in Hebrew: סונוריות
sonorous in Hungarian: Szonoritáshierarchia
sonorous in Dutch: Sonoriteit
sonorous in Japanese: 聞こえ
sonorous in Swedish: Sonoritet
sonorous in Chinese: 響亮級別

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Gongoresque, Johnsonian, achingly sweet, affected, agreeable, agreeable-sounding, appealing, ariose, arioso, aureate, bedizened, big-sounding, bombastic, booming, canorous, cantabile, catchy, clangorous, clattery, consonant, convoluted, deafening, declamatory, droning, dulcet, ear-piercing, ear-rending, ear-splitting, earthshaking, elevated, euphonic, euphonious, euphonous, euphuistic, fine-toned, flamboyant, flaming, flashy, flaunting, flowery, forte, fortissimo, full, fulsome, garish, gaudy, golden, golden-tongued, golden-voiced, grandiloquent, grandiose, grandisonant, high-flowing, high-flown, high-flying, high-sounding, highfalutin, honeyed, inkhorn, labyrinthine, lexiphanic, lofty, loud, loud-sounding, loudish, lurid, magniloquent, melic, mellifluent, mellifluous, mellisonant, mellow, melodic, melodious, meretricious, monotone, monotonic, music-flowing, music-like, musical, noiseful, oratorical, orotund, ostentatious, overblown, overdone, overelaborate, overinvolved, overwrought, pealing, pedantic, piercing, plangent, pleasant, pleasant-sounding, pompous, pretentious, pulsing, rackety, resonant, resonating, resounding, rhetorical, rich, ringing, rolling, rotund, round, sensational, sensationalistic, sententious, showy, silver-toned, silver-tongued, silver-voiced, silvery, singable, songful, songlike, soniferous, sounded, sounding, stentoraphonic, stentorian, stentorious, stilted, sweet, sweet-flowing, sweet-sounding, tall, throbbing, thunderous, tonal, toneless, tonitruant, tonitruous, tortuous, tunable, tuneful, uproarious, vibrant, vibrating, window-rattling
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