(in Indo-European languages) regular alternation in the internal phonological structure of a word element, especially alternation of a vowel, that is coordinated with a change in grammatical function or combination, as in English sing, sang, sung, song; apophony.
Historical Examples

The strong verbs form their preterite (originally the perfect) and past participle by means of ablaut ( 12).
A Middle High German Primer Joseph Wright

(linguistics) vowel gradation, esp in Indo-European languages See gradation (sense 5)

“systematic vowel alteration in the root of a word to indicate shades of meaning or tense,” a characteristic of Indo-European languages, 1849, from German Ablaut, literally “off-sound,” coined by J.P. Zweigel in 1568 from ab “off” + Laut “sound, tone,” from Old High German hlut (see listen). Popularized by Jacob Grimm.

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