Definition of descant in English:


Syllabification: des·cant


Pronunciation: /ˈdesˌkant
  • 1An independent treble melody usually sung or played above a basic melody.
    More example sentences
    • Jacques told me that everyone was in such awe when I sang it, no one would sing the descant while I was at college.
    • During the descant finale, however, instinct won out.
    • In some hymnals a descant is provided for the refrain.
  • 1.1 archaic or • literary A melodious song.
    More example sentences
    • Intoxicated with the idea, she ran through many a melodious descant, till, touching on the first strains of 'Thusa ha measg na reultan mor', she saw Wallace start from his contemplative position, and with a pale countenance leave the room.
  • 1.2A discourse on a theme or subject: his descant of deprivation
    More example sentences
    • It was an enjoyable evening but the danger of where we seem to be going kept reasserting itself like a descant to the pleasant sound of casual conversation.
    • I had been going to mark the 1000th posting here with a descant on futility and failure, as is traditional on New Year's Eve.
    • These wonderful letters are a descant to the two recent major biographies.


Pronunciation: /desˈkant
[no object] literary Back to top  
  • Talk tediously or at length: I have descanted on this subject before
    More example sentences
    • At one point, prior to descanting on conservatism with a small ‘c’, she says sharply, ‘Don't interrupt me during this bit ’, but I didn't really mind - it gave me time to eat.
    • It is a pleasure to hear my refugee patients descant on that great historical achievement.
    • When he has begun to descant on a subject which interests his morbid feelings, he knows not when to pass to another.


late Middle English: from Old French deschant, from medieval Latin discantus 'part-song, refrain'.

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