Bilabial consonant

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In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant articulated with both lips.


Bilabial consonants are very common across languages. Only around 0.7% of the world's languages lack bilabial consonants altogether, including Tlingit, Chipewyan, Oneida, and Wichita.[1]


The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
Xsampa-m.png voiced bilabial nasal English man [mæn] man
voiceless bilabial nasal Hmong Hmoob [m̥ɔ̃́] Hmong
Xsampa-p.png voiceless bilabial plosive English spin [spɪn] spin
Xsampa-b.png voiced bilabial plosive English bed [bɛd] bed
Xsampa-pslash.png voiceless bilabial fricative Japanese 富士山 (fujisan) [ɸuʑisaɴ] Mount Fuji
Xsampa-B2.png voiced bilabial fricative Ewe ɛʋɛ [ɛ̀βɛ̀] Ewe
IPA Unicode 0x03B2+0x031E.svg bilabial approximant Spanish lobo [loβ̞o] wolf
Xsampa-Bslash.png voiced bilabial trill Nias simbi [siʙi] lower jaw
ʙ̥ voiceless bilabial trill Sercquiais fritt [ʙ̥rɪt] crop
IPA bilabial ejective.svg bilabial ejective Adyghe пӀэ [a] meat
ɓ voiced bilabial implosive Jamaican Patois beat [ɓiːt] beat
ɓ̥ voiceless bilabial implosive Serer
bilabial click release (many distinct consonants) Nǁng ʘoe [k͡ʘoe] meat

Owere Igbo has a six-way contrast among bilabial stops: [p pʰ ɓ̥ b b̤ ɓ].[citation needed]

Other varieties[edit]

The extensions to the IPA also define a bilabial percussive ([ʬ]) for smacking the lips together. A lip-smack in the non-percussive sense of the lips noisily parting would be [ʬ↓].[2]

The IPA chart shades out bilabial lateral consonants, which is sometimes read as indicating that such sounds are not possible. The fricatives [ɸ] and [β] are often lateral, but since no language makes a distinction for centrality, the allophony is not noticeable.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Maddieson, Ian. 2008. Absence of Common Consonants. In: Haspelmath, Martin & Dryer, Matthew S. & Gil, David & Comrie, Bernard (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Munich: Max Planck Digital Library, chapter 18. Available online at Archived 2009-06-01 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 2008-09-15.
  2. ^ Heselwood (2013: 121)[citation not found]


General references
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • McDorman, Richard E. (1999). Labial Instability in Sound Change: Explanations for the Loss of /p/'l. H'. Chicago: Organizational Knowledge Press. ISBN 0-9672537-0-5.