In phonetics, a continuant is a speech sound produced without a complete closure in the oral cavity, namely fricatives, approximants and vowels.[1] While vowels are included in continuants, the term is often reserved for consonant sounds.[2] Approximants were traditionally called "frictionless continuants".[3] Continuants contrast with occlusives, such as plosives, affricates and nasals.

Compare sonorant (resonant), which includes vowels, approximants and nasals but not fricatives, and contrasts with obstruent.

In phonology, continuant as a distinctive feature also includes trills. Whether lateral fricatives and approximants and taps/flaps are continuant is not conclusive.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "continuant" in Bussamann, Routledge dictionary of language and linguistics, 1996
  2. ^ Chalker, Sylvia. (1998). The Oxford dictionary of English grammar. Weiner, E. S. C., Oxford University Press. (1st rev. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-172767-2. OCLC 49356718.
  3. ^ "approximant" in Crystal, A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics, 6th ed, 2008
  4. ^ Hayes, Bruce (2009). Introductory Phonology. Blackwell. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-4051-8411-3.