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[dis-uh-nuh ns] /ˈdɪs ə nəns/
inharmonious or harsh sound; discord; cacophony.
  1. a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion.
  2. an unresolved, discordant chord or interval.
    Compare consonance (def 3).
disagreement or incongruity.
Origin of dissonance
1565-75; < Late Latin dissonantia, equivalent to disson- (see dissonant) + -antia -ance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dissonance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dissonance is at its highest, yet the hour has struck for the lift of harmony.

    Child and Country Will Levington Comfort
  • There is dissonance from chaos; the song clears as the order begins.

    Child and Country Will Levington Comfort
  • The dissonance between her feelings and her actions troubled her no whit.

  • A "Meditation" is bleak, with a strong, free use of dissonance.

  • They concentrated, tuned, turned their thoughts against the dissonance.

    Captives of the Flame Samuel R. Delany
  • And the dissonance of the complaint jarred her back to common-sense.

    The Man Who Was Good Leonard Merrick
  • Terence Mann stopped playing, tense with a dissonance of perplexity.

British Dictionary definitions for dissonance


a discordant combination of sounds
lack of agreement or consistency
  1. a sensation commonly associated with all intervals of the second and seventh, all diminished and augmented intervals, and all chords based on these intervals Compare consonance (sense 3)
  2. an interval or chord of this kind
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
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Word Origin and History for dissonance

early 15c., "disagreement," from Middle French dissonance and directly from Late Latin dissonantia, from Latin dissonantem (see dissonant). Figurative use dates from 1875.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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