Approximant

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An approximant is a sound that is produced by a slight narrowing of the vocal tract, but not enough to cause noise or a complete obstruction.

Examples

The semivowels [j], [w] and the English r.

Origin

Approximants are so called because in their production, the active articulator approximates (=comes close to) the passive articulator.

Other languages

German Approximant (de)

Link

Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics