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[dis-uh-nuh nt] /ˈdɪs ə nənt/
disagreeing or harsh in sound; discordant.
out of harmony; incongruous; at variance.
Music. characterized by dissonance.
Origin of dissonant
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English dissonaunte (< Anglo-French) < Latin dissonant- (stem of dissonāns, present participle of dissonāre to sound harsh), equivalent to disson- (derivative of dissonus discordant; see dis-1, sound1) + -ant- -ant
Related forms
dissonantly, adverb
undissonant, adjective
undissonantly, adverb
2. incompatible, incongruent, inconsistent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dissonant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Their name is Legion, for they are many, and they speak with various and dissonant voices.

  • She was fitted to this landscape, whereas the other woman was alien and dissonant.

    The Forester's Daughter Hamlin Garland
  • The very sky seemed full of the discordant tumult; wood and shore reverberated with the volume of convulsive and dissonant baying.

    The Flaming Jewel Robert W. Chambers
  • They were taller and bulkier than the Cambrians, and were speaking a dissonant English jargon.

    Wild Wales George Borrow
  • His rhymes are often dissonant; in his Georgic he admits broken lines.

  • The ringers cracked a bell in Briarfield belfry; it is dissonant to this day.

    Shirley Charlotte Bront
  • To the writer at least, there remains one vital lack in Berlioz's music,—that of the dissonant element.

    Music: An Art and a Language Walter Raymond Spalding
British Dictionary definitions for dissonant


discordant; cacophonous
incongruous or discrepant
(music) characterized by dissonance
Derived Forms
dissonantly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin dissonāre to be discordant, from dis-1 + sonāre to sound
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 dissonant

early 15c., from Middle French dissonant and directly from Latin dissonantem (nominative dissonans), present participle of dissonare "differ in sound," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + sonare "to sound" (see sonata).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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