List of words that comprise a single sound

Languages may or may not allow words that consist of a single phoneme. Of those that do, these are generally vowels that serve as function words(grammar words, like prepositions and pronouns), such as English a and I;interjections, such as English ah! and sh!; or onomatopoeia, such as zzz...for sleeping. However, there are a smaller number of cases of content words that also consist of a single vowel sound. These are especially common in monosyllabic tonal languages such as those of East Asia. Words that consist of a single consonant sound are rarer.
This is a list of content words in various languages that comprise a single sound, in the sense that they can be written with a single letter of the International Phonetic Alphabet not counting diacritics, and that stand on their own. Only national or official languages with more than ten million speakers are included.
Notes:
  • Function words, interjections and onomatopoeia, proper names, and words which cannot stand on their own (like French a '(s/he) has') are excluded from the list. With such words, contrived vowel-only sentences can be made, such as dialectal Swedish Å i åa ä e ö "And in the stream there is an island".
  • The entries roughly follow the alphabetical order of the IPA letters, based on graphic similarity.

Vowels[edit]

Sound
(IPA)
Written
form
MeaningLanguageNotes
/a/mutenessJapaneseobscure
/aː/aastream, riverDutchrare
/aː/आ, آcome on!Hindi,[1]Persian[2]used with younger than ego
/ɐ̃ː/big sisterVietnamesedialectical
/ɑ̃/anyearFrench
/ɒ̜̽/atheHungarianthe variant used before consonants (vs. azbefore vowels)
/e/handle, stemJapanese
/eꜜ/
1. painting, drawing
2. feed, bait
Japanese
/ē/êto be numb, ashamedVietnamese
/ê/let's go!Vietnamese
/ě/ếnot saleable, unmarriedVietnamese
/eː/air
ere
eyre
heir
EnglishAustralian and Irish accents
(hay, hair, hare as well in h-dropping accents)
/ɛ/haie
ais
hedge
plank
French
/ɛ/ethisHungarianobsolete
/ɛ̄/eto be afraidVietnamese
/ɛː/childKorean
/ɝː/errto make a mistakeEnglish
/ɤ́/ēto defecate and urinateMandarincolloquial
/ɤ̌/é1. chant a poem
2. a goose
3. a moth
4. to blackmail; erroneous
Mandarin
/ɤ̂/è1. hungry, to starve
2. evil; fierce; to dislike
3. to hiccup
4. to grip, control
5. harness
6. palate
7. fish hawk
8. calyx
Mandarin
/ɤ̄ː/ơclay pot, be indifferentVietnamese
/ɤ̃ː/to reside, to stayVietnamese
/ɤ̂ˀː/to belchVietnamese
/i/hie
y
hie (tool)
there, to it
French
/i/胃 stomachJapaneseAlso 'boar' below.
/i/이 1. tooth
2. louse
3. two
4. cog
Korean(Sino-Korean)
/iꜜ/





藺 
1. greatness
2. feelings, meaning
3. medicine
4. a well
5. boar
6. sleep
7. a rush
Japanese'boar' is /iꜜ/ or /i/.
/î/1. a unit of weight
2. a line in a dancing group
3. meaning
Mandarin
/î/ìbe inert, sluggishVietnamese
/îˀ/defecateVietnamese
/ī/yto conformVietnamese
/ĩ/to depend on, Idesia, niche for ancestral tabletsVietnamese
/ǐ/ýan idea, intention, circumspectionVietnamese
/o/eau
haut
os
water
high
bones (pl)
French
/oꜜ/

1. tail, ridge
2. a male
3. cord, thread
Japanese
/ō/ôsuburb, betel box, umbrella, squareVietnamese
/ô/to rushVietnamese
/õ/nest, bedVietnamese
/ǒ/spotted, dirtyVietnamese
/oː/óoldHungarianused mostly in compounds
/oː/fiveKorean(Sino-Korean)
/oː/åstreamSwedish, Norwegian
/oː/oweEnglishIrish accent
/ø/œufseggsFrench
/øː/öisleSwedish
/øː/outsideKoreanpronounced [weː] by many[in compounds only?]
/øː/öönightEstonian
/øː/őhe, sheHungarian
/øˀ/øislandDanish
/ɔˀ/å(small) riverDanish
/ɔ̄/oto flirt, paternal aunt/young girl, pork larynxVietnamese
/ɔ̌/óeagleVietnamese
/ɔː/awe
haw
haw
haw
hoar
whore
oar
ore
ore
fearful respect
hawthorn berry
nictitating membrane
for a horse to turn to the left
greyish
prostitute
paddle
metal-bearing mineral
seaweed
Englishh- words in aitch-dropping accents,
-r words in non-rhotic accents
/œ̃/unoneFrench
/u/août
houe
houx
August
hoe
holly
Frenchaoût is also pronounced /ut/
/u/1. suddenly
2. top
Koreantop is pronounced /u/ in North Korea
/u/The Hare, in the Chinese zodiacJapanese
/uꜜ/

1. cormorant
2. get, obtain
3. bhava
Japanese(2) is an inflection of eru
/ú/1. house, room
2. filth, filthy, to defile
3. tungsten
4. a crow, black
5. shaman, wizard
Mandarin
/ǔ/1. there is not; nothingMandarin
/ù/1. five
2. a dance, to dance, to flourish
3. to seal, to muffle
4.martial, valiant
5. ranks
Mandarin
/û/1. a thing, matter
2. mist, fog
3. an error, to miss, to harm
4. to realize
5. business, to strive for, to devote
6. to hate
7. to meet face to face
8. to warm up
Mandarin
/ū/umother, swollen, tumour, to swellVietnamese
/û/ùquicklyVietnamese
/ũ/to keep covered for warmth, sullenVietnamese
/ûˀ/a mound, basinVietnamese
/ɯ̌/to climb, to accumulate, to exudeVietnamese
/y/uyou (polite)Dutch
/y/eu, euehadFrenchpast participle of avoir (have)
/y/topKoreanpronounced [wi] by many
/ý/1. doctrinaire, abstruse
2. silt, to silt up
Mandarin
/y̌/1. a fish
2. the surplus
3. foolish
4. yu (a wind instrument)
5. to catch fish, usurp
6. to exceed
7. nook
Mandarin
/ỳ/1. to give, support
2. rain
3. language
4. feather, wing
Mandarin
/ŷ/1. to encounter, to treat; treatment
2. wish, desire
3. prison, lawsuit
4. recover
5. jade
6. residence; to reside
7. ravine
8. reputation; to praise
9. give birth to, raise
10. to drive a vehicle, to ward off; imperial
11. in advance; to get ready
12. taro
13. region
14. sandpiper
Mandarin

Consonants[edit]

Single consonants are much less common as words. Slavic languages have consonantal prepositions, such as Russian к/k/ 'to', с /s/ 'with', and в /v/ 'in', but these cannot stand on their own and so are not phonetic words.
SoundWritten formMeaningLanguage

1. not; to hold in the mouth
2. unclear
Cantonese
ŋ̏



1. I, us
2. Firmiana simplex; support
3. centipede
4. giant flying squirrel
5. sword
Cantonese
ŋ̗

啎, 忤
1. five
2. noon
3. disobedient
5. army; associate with
Cantonese
ŋ̀


1. err, error, interfere
2. scarce
3. interview, meet
4. realize
Cantonese

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