A diacritic mark is a typographic element, such as acute, caron, or circumflex.

In English they are often referred to as accent marks, however, in many languages the diacritics do much more than mark an accent; they change the pronunciation of the letter they modify.

For example, in Slovak the letter s is pronounced the same as in English word same, while the same letter with a caron ( š ) is pronounced like English sh in the word English.

Di`a*crit"ic (?), Di`a*crit"ic*al (?), a. [Gr. , fr. to separate, distinguish; through + to separate. See Critic.]

That separates or distinguishes; -- applied to points or marks used to distinguish letters of similar form, or different sounds of the same letter, as, ā, ă, ä, ō, ŏ, etc.

"Diacritical points."

Sir W. Jones.

A glance at this typography will reveal great difficulties, which diacritical marks necessarily throw in the way of both printer and writer.
A. J. Ellis.


© Webster 1913.

E2 editor's note: The original HTML tags don't render properly here. For those who care, they were

  • ā lower-case a with macron,
  • ă lower-case a with breve,
  • ä lower-case a with dieresis or umlaut,
  • ō lower-case o with macron,
  • &obreve; lower-case o with breve

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