From Ancient Greek φωνή (phōnḗ, voice, sound) + -ate.


  • IPA(key): /fəʊˈneɪt/


phonate (third-person singular simple present phonates, present participle phonating, simple past and past participle phonated)

  1. (intransitive) To make sounds with the voice.
    • 1973, Oliver Sacks, Awakenings:
      One [] finds patients unable to take a single step, who can dance with consummate ease and grace; patients unable to phonate, or utter a single word, who can sing without any difficulty []
    • 1988, Philip Lieberman, Speech Physiology, Speech Perception, and Acoustic Phonetics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 36:
      Adult male speakers can phonate at fundamental frequencies that range between 80 and 300 Hz. Adult females and children normally phonate at fundamental frequencies that range up to about 500 Hz, although the fundamental frequency can go up to 1.5 kHz []
    • 2007, Don DeLillo, Underworld: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Scribner Classics, →ISBN, page 543:
      I wanted to look up velleity and quotidian and memorize the fuckers for all time, spell them, learn them, pronounce them syllable by syllable—vocalize, phonate, utter the sounds, say the words for all they're worth.
    • 2014 August 8, Rupert Christiansen, “The truth about falsettos [print version: 12 August 2014, p. R8]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review):
      Basically, I [countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo] use the same technique as a female mezzo-soprano, with one small physiological difference: I have to narrow my vocal cords to phonate [produce the sound].
  2. (transitive) To use the voice to make (specific sounds).
    • 1967, William Vennard, Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic, 5th edition, New York, N.Y.: Carl Fischer, →ISBN, page 124, para. 444:
      Isshiki found that if a singer is asked to phonate Ee, Oo, and Ah at the same loudness he will actually make the Ah much louder than the other two. This is because he gauges loudness by the effort he is using, and in this experiment the subglottal pressure was the same for Ah and Oo, but the Ah was louder because the mouth was more open.


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