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[sing-kuh-pey-shuh n, sin-] /ˌsɪŋ kəˈpeɪ ʃən, ˌsɪn-/
Music. a shifting of the normal accent, usually by stressing the normally unaccented beats.
something, as a rhythm or a passage of music, that is syncopated.
Also called counterpoint, counterpoint rhythm. Prosody. the use of rhetorical stress at variance with the metrical stress of a line of verse, as the stress on and and of in Come praise Colonus' horses and come praise/The wine-dark of the wood's intricacies.
Grammar. syncope.
Origin of syncopation
1525-35; < Medieval Latin syncopātiōn- (stem of syncopātiō), equivalent to Late Latin syncopāt(us) (see syncopate) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
nonsyncopation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for syncopation
Historical Examples
  • And over all the American jazz music boomed and whanged its syncopation.

    Gigolo Edna Ferber
  • One may do worse than compare it with the Syrian syncopation of and ' in Bion's Adonis.

    Instigations Ezra Pound
  • His heart beat with syncopation when he rose at the first note of music.

    What Will People Say? Rupert Hughes
  • Are you in favour of the establishment of a Ministry for the Control of syncopation?

  • The result is an effect of syncopation which is peculiarly forceful.

    How to Listen to Music, 7th ed. Henry Edward Krehbiel
  • Formally its distinctive characteristic is the familiar one—syncopation.

    Since Czanne Clive Bell
  • Certainly she "leaves out" with the boldest of them: here is syncopation if you like it.

    Since Czanne Clive Bell
  • In other words, the character of language rhythm is determined by the relative proportion of coincidence and syncopation.

  • In verse also syncopation frequently occurs, though it is seldom recognized except as an 'irregularity.'

  • It is the very kernel of the art of Paul Cézanne; rhythmic irregularity, syncopation, asymmetry.

    Unicorns James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for syncopation


  1. the displacement of the usual rhythmic accent away from a strong beat onto a weak beat
  2. a note, beat, rhythm, etc, produced by syncopation
another word for syncope (sense 2)
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 syncopation

1530s, "contraction of a word by omission of middle sounds," from Medieval Latin syncopationem (nominative syncopatio) "a shortening or contraction," from syncopare "to shorten," also "to faint away, to swoon," from Late Latin syncope (see syncope). Musical sense is attested from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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