Elision is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce. Sometimes, sounds may be elided for euphonic effect.
Elision is normally unintentional, but it may be deliberate. The result may be impressionistically described as "slurred" or "muted."
An example of deliberate elision occurs in Latin poetry as a stylistic device. Under certain circumstances, such as one word ending in a vowel and the following word beginning in a vowel, the words may be elided together. Elision was a common device in the works of Catullus. For example, the opening line of Catullus 3 is: Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque, but would be read as Lugeto Veneres Cupidinesque.
The elided form of a word or phrase may become a standard alternative for the full form, if used often enough. In English, this is called a contraction, such as can't from cannot. Contraction differs from elision in that contractions are set forms that have morphologized, but elisions are not.
A synonym for elision is syncope, though the latter term is most often associated with the elision of vowels between consonants (e.g., Latin tabula → Spanish tabla). Another form of elision is aphesis, which means elision at the beginning of a word (generally of an unstressed vowel).
Some morphemes take the form of elision. See disfix.
The opposite of elision is epenthesis, whereby sounds are inserted into a word to ease pronunciation.
A special form of elision called ecthlipsis is used in Latin poetry when a word ending in the letter "m" is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, e.g., "...et mutam nequiquam adloquerer cinerem." = "...et mutam nequiquadloquerer cinerem." - Catullus 101.
The omission of a word from a phrase or sentence is not elision but ellipsis or, more accurately, elliptical construction.
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