1. A mid-central neutral vowel, typically occurring in unstressed syllables, as the final vowel of English sofa.
2. The symbol (ə) used to represent an unstressed neutral vowel and, in some systems of phonetic transcription, a stressed mid-central vowel, as in but.
[German, from Hebrew šəwā', probably from Syriac (nuqzē) šwayyā, even (points), pl. passive participle of šwā, to be even; see šwy in the Appendix of Semitic roots.]
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