[noun, adjective des-kant; verb des-kant, dis-]
- a melody or counterpoint accompanying a simple musical theme and usually written above it.
- (in part music) the soprano.
- a song or melody.
- a variation upon anything; comment on a subject.
- Music (chiefly British ).
- soprano: a descant recorder.
- treble: a descant viol.
- Music. to sing.
- to comment or discourse at great length.
Origin of descant
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for descant
After all this, might we descant upon the squire's characteristics.The Complete Prose Works of Martin Farquhar Tupper
Martin Farquhar Tupper
It is easy for us now to descant on the virtues of moderation.William Pitt and the Great War
John Holland Rose
He tried to descant upon the weather, but the subject failed him.The heart of happy hollow
Paul Laurence Dunbar
But he did not choose to descant upon his gracelessness to Margery.The Shadow of Ashlydyat
Mrs. Henry Wood
It is unnecessary to descant upon the economy of this procedure.Essays in Experimental Logic
- Also: discant a decorative counterpoint added above a basic melody
- a comment, criticism, or discourse
- Also: discant of or pertaining to the highest member in common use of a family of musical instrumentsa descant recorder
- Also: discant (often foll by on or upon) to compose or perform a descant (for a piece of music)
- (often foll by on or upon) to discourse at length or make varied comments
C14: from Old Northern French, from Medieval Latin discantus, from Latin dis- 1 + cantus song; see chant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for descant
mid-15c.; see descant (n.). Sense of "to comment at length" is first attested 1640s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper