Are there words starting with the letter "y" pronounced as a vowel sound and can be proceded with "an"?

  • I'm tempted to answer an ypsilon but in English it is upsilon so it would only work if quoting.
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 24 '18 at 13:30
  • ympt - to graft. But it's a verb, so no an ympt. Jan 24 '18 at 13:31
  • Another verb - yclept.
    – user888379
    Jan 24 '18 at 14:23
  • nouns starting with vowel y? Jan 24 '18 at 14:33
  • 1
    yperite,ylem... Probably any word starting with y followed by a consonant. Most of them are archaic or obsolete. In modern English, they are usually technical words.
    – 0..
    Jan 24 '18 at 16:28

Some, but it's very uncommon. The chemical elements Yttrium (IT-ree-əm) and Ytterbium (ih-TUR-bee-əm) come to mind as examples, in the sense of "an yttrium atom".

  • to be strict, though, one will hardly say "an Yttrium" )))
    – shabunc
    Jan 24 '18 at 15:56
  • to be strict, though, that wasn't required by the question :)
    – Lemma
    Jan 24 '18 at 15:58
  • If I remember correctly, those names derive from "Ytterby" so there's another proper noun.
    – user888379
    Jan 24 '18 at 16:06

Middle English allows us "yghe" (eye) and "yren" (iron). The first can easily be found as "an yghe" in old books. The second is mostly used as an adjective (e.g. "an yren smith"), however, "an yren bounde cofre" (an iron bound coffer) can be found too, which I believe designates "yren" as a noun. The OP simply asked for can be proceded with "an" so the designation as a noun isn't strictly a requirement, but I felt strangely compelled to try to meet that criterion.

However there are two animals that start with "y". The "yllatron", another name for the "agouara" (crab-eating raccoon!) and the "ynambu", another name for the "tinamou" (a South American bird, similar to a partridge).

So there are geniune modern English usages of "an yllatron" and "an ynambu".

Hence the answer to the question is "Yes".

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