DRESS lexical set

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The DRESS lexical set is one of the twenty-four lexical sets defined by John C. Wells in Accents of English that are in wide usage among phonologists and phoneticians.[1][2]

Pronunciation in reference accents

Words of the DRESS lexical set are pronounced with a stressed vowel ranging from [e] (in RP and AusE) to [ɛ] (in GA).


Words in this set are usually spelt with the letter "e" (as in "bed", "get", etc.). In some words "ea" is used (e.g. "head", "weapon" and "read").


The DRESS lexical set contains a so-called checked vowel: in other words, the stressed vowel must always be followed immediately by a consonant (other than nonprevocalic /r/).


In RP, Australian English and New Zealand English the DRESS lexical set is realised as [e]. In American English it's generally lower, [ɛ].


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English I: An Introduction. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29719-2.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English III: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.

See also

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