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
m voiced bilabial nasal English man [mæn] man
voiceless bilabial nasal Hmong Hmoob [m̥ɔ̃́] Hmong
p voiceless bilabial plosive English spin [spɪn] spin
b voiced bilabial plosive English bed [bɛd] bed
ɸ voiceless bilabial fricative Japanese 富士山 (fujisan) [ɸuʑisaɴ] Mount Fuji
β voiced bilabial fricative Ewe ɛʋɛ [ɛ̀βɛ̀] Ewe
β̞ bilabial approximant Spanish lobo [loβ̞o] wolf
ʙ voiced bilabial trill Nias simbi [siʙi] lower jaw
ʙ̥ voiceless bilabial trill Sercquiais fritt [ʙ̥rɪt] crop
bilabial ejective Adyghe пӀэ [a] meat
ɓ voiced bilabial implosive Jamaican Patois beat [ɓiːt] beat
ɓ̥ voiceless bilabial implosive Serer
k͡ʘ q͡ʘ
ɡ͡ʘ ɢ͡ʘ
ŋ͡ʘ ɴ͡ʘ
bilabial clicks (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

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



  1. ^ "WALS Online - Chapter Absence of Common Consonants". Retrieved 2022-12-31.
  2. ^ Heselwood (2013: 121)[citation not found]


General references