Merriam-Webster notation

From Teflpedia

Merriam-Webster notation is a type of pronunciation notation used in dictionaries produced by Merriam-Webster for American English. It uses symbols placed between backslash brackets, rather than forward slash brackets of IPA.

IPA pronunciation key[edit | edit source]

The table below is a complement to Guide to IPA Symbols. Some combinations not shown in the guide are /aj/, /aw/, /ij/, /oj/, /ow/, and /uw/.

Sample words Merriam-Webster’s Teflpedia Comments
trap \æ\
bath \/æ/ Brit /ɑː/ /ɑː,BrE æAmE/
aunt \æ, ɑː\ /ɑː,BrE æAmE/
palm, father \ɑː\ /ɑː/
lot \ɑː\ /ɒ/
cloth \ɑː\ BrE, ɔːAmE/ Cot-caught merger
thought \ɑː\ /ɔː/ Cot-caught merger
start \ɑɚ\ /ɑːr/ Narrow notation: /ɑːr/ sounds [ɑɚ] at the end of the syllable or before a consonant
safari \ɑr\ /ɑːr/ Narrow notation: /ɑːr/ is a bit shorter if followed by a vowel
sorry \ɑr\ /ɒr/ Narrow notation: /ɑːr/ is a bit shorter if followed by a vowel
\ɑr, or\ \ɒr,BrE, ɔːrAmE\
dress \ɛ\ /e/
marry, carry \er\ /ær/ Mary-marry-merry merger
merry, cherry \er\ /er/
Mary, scary \er\ /eər/ Mary-marry-merry merger
aerobics \eɚ\ /eər/ Exception to the Mary-marry-merry merger
square \eɚ\ /eər/ Narrow notation: /er/ at the end of the syllable sounds [eɚ]
face \eɪ\ /eɪ/
player \ej\ /eɪ/ Narrow notation: /eɪ/ before an unstressed vowel sounds [ej]
payout /eɪ\ /eɪ/ Narrow notation: /eɪ/ before a stressed vowel (primary or secondary stress) sounds [eɪ]
kit \ɪ\ /ɪ/
fleece \iː\ /iː/
idea \iːj\ /iː/ Narrow notation: stressed /iː/ before a vowel sounds [iːj]
create \i\ /iː/ Narrow notation: unstressed /iː/ before a stressed vowel is shorter
happy \i\ /iː/ Narrow notation: unstressed /iː/ at the end of the word is shorter
mirror \i\ /ɪ/ Mirror-nearer merger
material \i\ /ɪə/ Mirror-nearer merger
near \iɚ\ /ɪər/
various, immediate \ij\ /iː/ Narrow notation: unstressed /iː/ before a vowel sounds [ij]
north, force \oɚ\ /ɔːr/ Narrow notation: /ɔː/ before /r/ sounds [o] in most American dialects. /ɔːr/ sounds [oɚ] at the end of the syllable or before a consonant.
glory \or\ /ɔːr/ Narrow notation: /ɔː/ before /r/ sounds [o] in most American dialects
drawer \ɑːɚ\ /ɔːr/ Possibly an error. A person who draws is a [ˈdrɑːɚ], but a box that slides should be [ˈdroɚ]. See http://www.dictionary.com/browse/drawer
moral, laurel \or\ /ɒrBrE, ɔːrAmE/ Narrow notation: /ɔː/ before /r/ sounds [o] in most American dialects
goat \oʊ\ /əʊ/
obey \oʊ\ /ə,BrE əʊAmE/
rower \ow\ /əʊ/ Narrow notation: /oʊ/ before a vowel sounds [ow].
foot \ʊ\ /ʊ/
goose \uː\ /uː/
influence \uːw\ /uː/ Narrow notation: /uː/ before a vowel sounds [uw]
individual \əw\ /ʊ/ Narrow notation: unstressed /uː/ before a vowel sounds [əw]
sanctuary \əwe\ Brit /uə/ /uːə,BrE uːeAmE/ Narrow notation: unstressed /uː/ before a stressed vowel is split between syllables
tour \uɚ\ /ʊər/
tourist \ur\ /ʊər/
cute \juː\ /juː/
new \uː\ Brit /juː/ /juː/
continuous \juw\ /juː/ Narrow notation: /uː/ before a vowel sounds [uw]
genuine \jəw\ /juː/ Narrow notation: unstressed /uː/ before a vowel sounds [əw]
curable \jur\ /jʊər/
strut \ʌ\ /ʌ/
nurse \ɚ\ /ɜːr/ (*)
sure /ɚ/ Brit /ɔː/ /ʊər, ɔːrBrE/ (*)
furry \ɚr\ /ɜːr/ (*)
hurry \ɚr\ /ʌr,BrE ɜːrAmE/ (*) Hurry-furry merger
insurance \ɚr\ /ʊər, ɔːrAmE/ (*)
cure \jɚ\ /jʊər/ (*)
mural \jɚr\ /jʊər/ (*)
comma \ə\ /ə/
letter \ɚ\ /ər/
numerous \ər\ /ər/
people \əl\ /əl/
dental \l̟\ /əl/ See IPA phonetic symbol [l̩]; the diacritic used here is not the one corresponding to syllabic consonant; it is a small plus sign below the consonant, and according to Wikipedia it means relative articulation.[1]
open \ən\ /ən/
lesson \n̩\ /ən/ See IPA phonetic symbol [n̩]
rhythm \əm\ /əm/
price, virus \aɪ\ /aɪ/
diet \aj\ /aɪ/ Narrow notation: /aɪ/ before a vowel sounds [aj]
fire \ajɚ\ /aɪər/ Narrow notation: /aɪ/ before a vowel sounds [aj]
wiring \ajɚr\ /aɪər/ Narrow notation: /aɪ/ before a vowel sounds [aj]
mouth, dowry \aʊ\ /aʊ/
towel \aw\ /aw/ Narrow notation: /aʊ/ before a vowel sounds [aw]
hour /awɚ\ /aʊər/ Narrow notation: /aʊ/ before a vowel sounds [aw]
flowering \awɚr\ /aʊər/ Narrow notation: /aʊ/ before a vowel sounds [aw]
choice \oɪ\ /ɔɪ/
employer \oj\ /ɔɪ/ Narrow notation: /ɔɪ/ before a vowel sounds [oj]
just, fudge \ʤ\ /dʒ/ IPA doesn’t use ligatures any more
witch, which \w\ /w/

(*) Merriam-Webster’s uses the same symbol \ɚ\ for stressed /ɜːr/ and for unstressed /ər/.

Symbols not used in the dictionary[edit | edit source]

The following table shows symbols present in the Guide to IPA Symbols but not in the dictionary entries.

Sample words IPA Guide Dictionary Teflpedia Comments
cot, eat, boot : ː ː By mistake the guide uses colon instead of triangular colon
toe, attack \t\ /t/ Narrow notation
choose, achieve tʃʰ \tʃ\ /tʃ/ Narrow notation
later ɾ \t\ /t/ See IPA phonetic symbol [ɾ]
riddle ɾ \d\ /d/ See IPA phonetic symbol [ɾ]
cot, bomb ɒ British cot bomb \ɑː\ /ɒ/
caught, paw ɔ: British caught paw port \ɑː\ /ɔː/
port ɔ: British caught paw port \oɚ\ /ɔːr/
merge, bird ə: British merge bird \ɚ\ /ɜːr/
oat, own, zone, blow əʊ   British oat own zone blow \oʊ\ /əʊ/
near, deer ɪə British near, deer \iɚ\ /ɪər/
bare, fair ɛə British bare, fair \eɚ\ /eər/
boor, tour ʊə British boor, tour \uɚ\ /ʊər/

References[edit | edit source]