IPA number322
See also mid central vowel
Entity (decimal)ə
Unicode (hex)U+0259

In linguistics, specifically phonetics and phonology, schwa (ɑː/, rarely ɔː/ or ɑː/;[1] sometimes spelled shwa)[2] is the mid central vowel sound (rounded or unrounded) in the middle of the vowel chart, denoted by the IPA symbol ə, or another vowel sound close to that position. An example in English is the vowel sound of the 'a' in the word about. Schwa in English is mainly found in unstressed positions, but in some other languages it occurs more frequently as a stressed vowel.

In relation to certain languages, the name "schwa" and the symbol ə may be used for some other unstressed and toneless neutral vowel, not necessarily mid-central.


The word schwa is from the Hebrew word shva (שְׁוָא  IPA: [ʃva], classical pronunciation: shəwāʼ  [ʃəˑwɒːʔ]), designating the Hebrew niqqud vowel sign shva (two vertical dots written beneath a letter): in Modern Hebrew, it indicates either the phoneme /e/ or the complete absence of a vowel. (The Hebrew shva is also sometimes transliterated using the schwa symbol ə, even if this pronunciation is found neither in Modern Hebrew nor in Tiberian vocalization.[citation needed])

The term was introduced by German linguists in the 19th century, and so the spelling sch is German in origin. It was first used in English texts between 1890 and 1895.[3][4]

The symbol ⟨ə⟩ was used first by Johann Andreas Schmeller for the reduced vowel at the end of the German name Gabe. Alexander John Ellis, in his palæotype alphabet, used it for the similar English sound in but t/.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Schwa
Alemannisch: Schwa
العربية: مصوت مخفى
Bikol Central: Schwa
български: Шва
brezhoneg: Schwa
català: Vocal neutra
čeština: Šva
Deutsch: Schwa
eesti: Švaa
español: Schwa
Esperanto: Ŝvao
français: Schwa
한국어: 슈와
हिन्दी: श्वा
Bahasa Indonesia: Pepet
italiano: Schwa
lumbaart: Schwa
Nederlands: Sjwa
日本語: シュワー
Napulitano: Ajùto:Schwa
norsk: Schwa
norsk nynorsk: Schwa
Piemontèis: Schwa
polski: Szwa
português: Xevá
русский: Шва
Scots: Schwa
shqip: Schwa
slovenščina: Polglasnik
Sranantongo: Schwa
suomi: Švaa
svenska: Schwa
Tagalog: Schwa
tarandíne: Schwa
українська: Шва
Võro: Svaa