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OUL (would) Sound Word List

By Rodney Everson • Updated Jun 6th, 2023

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The /oul/ sound has three spellings, oo (book), u (bush), and oul (would). In this list, no words either start or end with an /oul/ sound.

The "oo" spelling is the most common. Once the words under the other two spellings ("u" and "oul") are learned, there will be very few new words encountered in multisyllable words that are not just derivatives of those words such as bushy and wouldn’t.

Of the 7,000 words in the database constructed from a popular children’s dictionary, 25 of them are one-syllable words in which the vowel sound is /oul/.

A note on the choice made in the naming of this sound, /oul/: That spelling is found in only three words, "would," "should," and "could," and their derivations. Both the "oo" and the "u" spellings of the /oul/ sound are already used to name other sounds. Using "ou" would work, but that would require both explaining the remaining "ld" at the end of each of those three words and adding another sound to the already complex "ou" digraph. Given all that, /oul/ seemed a reasonable choice for describing this sound, particularly since it only occurs in three very common words (and their derivations.)

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