Definition of accent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈakˌsent/
1A distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, especially one associated with a particular nation, locality, or social class: a strong German accent she never mastered the French accent
More example sentences
  • Certainly, you can move away from a religious culture in which you were brought up in much the same way that one can change one's accent, or mode of dress.
  • Young Frank in particular has a classic southern accent and pronunciation.
  • Since colonial times a strong Australian accent has been associated with lower class and broad comic characters.
pronunciation, intonation, enunciation, articulation, inflection, tone, modulation, cadence, timbre, manner of speaking, delivery;
brogue, burr, drawl, twang
2A distinct emphasis given to a syllable or word in speech by stress or pitch.
Example sentences
  • In all but parts of eastern Slovakia, the stress is on the first syllable of a word; longer words (three or more syllables) have secondary accents.
  • Mania, they were told, is simply the Italian translation of the word obsession, and anyway it's pronounced with the accent on the second syllable.
  • In Samoan words all syllables are given equal timing with a slight accent placed on the penultimate syllable.
stress, emphasis, accentuation, force, prominence;
technical ictus
2.1A mark on a letter, typically a vowel, to indicate pitch, stress, or vowel quality.
Example sentences
  • The accents and other diacritical marks we now use to write ancient Greek are comparatively late inventions.
  • FYI - I had to leave out some of the accent marks on some of the Spanish words.
  • It's a neat trick to have a way to spell words containing both nasalization and crucially important tone without any accents or funny letters.
mark, diacritic, diacritical mark
2.2 Music An emphasis on a particular note or chord.
Example sentences
  • Rachmaninoff indicates that the tenor carries the melody by placing accents over each of its notes.
  • Or consider the college piano student, carefully groomed to taper each Mozartean phrase just so, and deliver sharp accents in Bartok.
  • Moravec takes the opening of the first in a way that connects with Bartók's piano dances, with shifting accents.
3 [in singular] A special or particular emphasis: the accent is on participation
More example sentences
  • Though there are sections on Welsh and Greek, the accent is on French, German, Spanish and Italian, each of which has a 24-lesson course attached.
  • The accent is on natural materials - wood and stone.
  • The accent is on making learning an enjoyable experience. ‘Look, understand, absorb and learn’ is the new mantra.
emphasis, stress, priority;
importance, prominence
3.1A feature that gives a distinctive visual emphasis to something: blue woodwork and accents of red
More example sentences
  • If you're using chives as a visual accent, just sprinkle a few over whatever you're accenting.
  • After a tour of five hotels in Lakes towns from Keswick to Coniston his recommendation is to inject a regional accent into the decor to get more guests to the check-in desks.
  • Bright red is a bold accent in clusters of anemones and candy canes.


Pronunciation: /ˈakˌsent/
Pronunciation: /akˈsent/
[with object]
1Emphasize (a particular feature): fabrics that accent the background colors in the room
More example sentences
  • His pale features were accented by his ebony hair.
  • Dark hair and even darker eyes accented his pale features and an amused smile touched his thin lips.
  • He had a certain smug look as the setting sun accented his facial features and bathed the luxurious office in shades of red and gold light.
focus attention on, draw attention to, point up, underline, underscore, accentuate, highlight, spotlight, foreground, feature, play up, bring to the fore, heighten, stress, emphasize
1.1 Music Play (a note, a beat of the bar, etc.) with an accent.
Example sentences
  • The first verse is followed by a short chorus, where the piano doubles the melody with the synth accenting the first note.
  • She accented every note just-short of perfectly, fading her voice before a few high notes and before an emphasized verse to add to the atmosphere of the song.
  • Kamiyama floats gorgeous shimmering melodies that fade in and out of the background, and synth squiggles periodically accent the rhythm.



Pronunciation: /akˈsen(t)SH(o͞o)əl/
Example sentences
  • Rap characteristically uses the four-stress, accentual line that has been the most common meter for spoken popular poetry in English from Anglo-Saxon verse and the border ballads to Robert Service and Rudyard Kipling.
  • Each track is regularly cut up into several miniature movements, equally showcasing Buck's immaculate lo-fi production techniques, subtle mixing, accentual scratching, and predominantly soft-spoken emceeing abilities.
  • Arnold also weighed in on the ongoing question of the relative merits of, and relation between, quantitative and accentual hexameter and whether accent itself constituted length comparable to that of classical prosody.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'intonation'): from Latin accentus 'tone, signal, or intensity' (from ad- 'to' + cantus 'song'), translating Greek prosōidia 'a song sung to music, intonation'.

  • English distinguishes the different parts or syllables of a word by stressing one of them, but the ancient Greeks pronounced them with a distinct difference in musical pitch. Syllables marked with a grave accent (for example à, from Latin gravis ‘heavy, serious’) were spoken at a comparatively low pitch, those with an acute (á, from Latin acutus ‘sharp, high’) at a higher pitch, and those with a circumflex (â, from Latin circumflexus, ‘bent around’) began at the higher pitch and descended during the pronunciation of the syllable. This gives some explanation of why the root of accent is Latin cantus ‘song’, which was a direct translation of the Greek word prosōidia (source of prosody (Late Middle English) ‘versification’). Quite a few languages (technically known as ‘tonal’ languages) still have this musical way of speaking, among them Chinese and Swedish.

Words that rhyme with accent

absent, anent, ascent, assent, augment, bent, cement, cent, circumvent, consent, content, dent, event, extent, ferment, foment, forewent, forwent, frequent, gent, Ghent, Gwent, lament, leant, lent, meant, misrepresent, misspent, outwent, pent, percent, pigment, rent, scent, segment, sent, spent, stent, Stoke-on-Trent, Tashkent, tent, torment, Trent, underspent, underwent, vent, went

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ac·cent

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