A survey of other languages with obvious cognates clearly suggests the source for the word "diamond" ended in an unvoiced dental consonant. It is clearly voiced in modern English, and that is also reflected in its spelling.

Was this change:

  1. a member of a regular, "event-like" historical shift in the development of English;
  2. a member of a widely-applying and general phonetic process due to its environment;
  3. sporadic?

I would also be interested in information on the history of this change and causative phonetic context, if available.

"Diamond" in many languages: https://www.mindat.org/min-1282.html#autoanchor12

  • What do you mean by 'vocalised'? I wouldn't say it's vocalisation. Vocalisation is when a sound becomes a vowel or more vowel-like (e.g. the l in talk). /// Also, most words/cognates have dental stops in other languages but alveolar stops in English, which is normal. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 16:30
  • 1
    Sorry, voiced not vocalised per the question body. Will edit.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


English spelling was irregular and broadly based upon pronunciation until the 1700s when the change towards standardisation started in earnest. The choice, as you see was in the final consonant – French influence and origins favoured the “t”, but English favoured the “d” – and, with waning French influence, that won.


Diamond /ˈdʌɪəmənd/

Etymology: Middle English diamant , -aunt , < Old French diamant (= Provençal diaman , Catalan diamant , Italian diamanto , Old High German demant ), < late Latin diamas , diamant-em (medieval Greek διαμάντε ), an alteration of Latin adamas , -antem , or perhaps of its popular variant adimant-em […], apparently under the influence of the numerous technical words beginning with the prefix “dia”, Greek δια-.


α. Middle English diamawnte, dyamawnte, Middle English–1500s dyamaunt, Middle English–1500s dyamant, Middle English–1600s diamant;

β. Middle English dia-, dya-, -maund(e, -mawnde, -mounde, -mownde, Middle English–1500s -mand(e, Middle English dyamonde, dyamount, dyamonthe, deamond(e, Middle English–1500s dyamont(e, diamonde, Middle English–1600s dyamond, 1500s diamont, diamunde, 1500s– diamond; γ. 1600s dimond, 1700s di'mond.

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