The term is used in two distinct ways:

(1) as the name of a secondary articulation which involves the presence of a wide stricture between the front of the tongue and the hard palate. The IPA diacritic for a palatalised sound is a raised j (U+02B2) following the relevant symbol, so for example is a voiceless palatalised alveolar plosive. Consonants may be palatalised through coarticulation with a following high front vowel or palatal consonant, as for the first consonant in the word beauty in most English accents. Another possibility is for palatalisation for consonants to be contrastive in a language. An example of plain vs palatalised labiodental fricatives from Russian: krɔf (“roof”) krɔfʲ (“blood”).

(2) as the name of a process whereby a consonant is replaced by a palatal consonant. Some writers call this process palatalling. An example of this is the pronunciation çuː for shoe by young children.