Definition of umlaut in English:



  • 1A mark (¨) used over a vowel, especially in German, to indicate a different vowel quality.

    • ‘German umlauts appear to be a problem in some cases.’
    • ‘The evidence is that originally the German keyboard produced circumflexes instead of umlauts but it was replaced by an English keyboard.’
    • ‘Come on folks, don't you know how to pronounce vowels with umlauts over them?’
    • ‘Furthermore, Hungarian, Turkish and Finnish (which are Ural-Altaic languages like Korean and share phonetic qualities with it) also extensively use umlauts.’
    • ‘This changed when the reform-minded leader Kemal Mustafa Attaturk, for better or for worse, adopted a Romanization system which heavily uses umlauts to modify various sounds.’
    1. 1.1mass noun The process in Germanic languages by which the quality of a vowel was altered in certain phonetic contexts, resulting for example in the differences between modern German Mann and Männer.
      • ‘It is important to note that in many OE words containing vowels affected by umlaut, the /i/ or /j/ in the following unstressed syllable has been lost.’
      • ‘Not all vowel gradations are caused by umlaut.’
      • ‘The mutations of a basic vowel by umlaut are of two kinds in OE.’


[with object]
  • Modify (a form or sound) by using an umlaut.

    ‘the colour of prothetic vowels, unless umlauted by the next syllable, was that of the laryngeal which was vocalized’
    • ‘Accented and umlauted vowels, and diacritical marks on consonants must be avoided, because they act as roadblocks and break the speed of a typist.’
    • ‘That's like the umlauted vowel in the first syllable of the German town name Tübingen.’
    • ‘In the choral movement of his ninth symphony, the soprano soloist has to sing her highest note on the umlauted U in flügel, an even more daunting vowel sound than that in ‘who'd.’’
    • ‘How can I use umlauted letters in spelling surnames?’
    • ‘There are actually 2 ways to make umlauted vowels.’


Mid 19th century from German Umlaut, from um ‘about’ + Laut ‘sound’.