[noun ak-sent; verb ak-sent, ak-sent]


verb (used with object)

Origin of accent

1520–30; < Latin accentus speaking tone, equivalent to ac- ac- + -centus, combining form of cantus song (see canto); translation of Greek prosōidía prosody
Related formsac·cent·less, adjectiveac·cen·tu·a·ble [ak-sen-choo-uh-buh l] /ækˈsɛn tʃu ə bəl/, adjectivenon·ac·cent, nounnon·ac·cent·ed, adjectivenon·ac·cent·ing, adjectivere·ac·cent, verb (used with object)well-ac·cent·ed, adjective
Can be confusedaccent stressaccent accentuate assent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for accent

Contemporary Examples of accent

Historical Examples of accent

  • How would the first accent of his iron tongue have startled his resurrectionists!

    A Bell's Biography

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Like most educated Russians, he spoke English with barely an accent.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • His accent, which was Kentuckian and therefore Southern, had helped him also.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • The accent upon the pronoun was very faint, but it was there for him to notice if he liked.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • I thought there was something of an English accent in your speech now and then.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport

    Robert Neilson Stephens

British Dictionary definitions for accent


noun (ˈæksənt)

the characteristic mode of pronunciation of a person or group, esp one that betrays social or geographical origin
the relative prominence of a spoken or sung syllable, esp with regard to stress or pitchCompare pitch 1 (def. 28), stress (def. 3)
a mark (such as ˈ, ˌ, ´ or `) used in writing to indicate the stress or prominence of a syllable. Such a mark may also be used to indicate that a written syllable is to be pronounced, esp when such pronunciation is not usual, as in turnèd
any of various marks or symbols conventionally used in writing certain languages to indicate the quality of a vowel, or for some other purpose, such as differentiation of homographsSee acute (def. 10), grave 2 (def. 5), circumflex
(in some languages, such as Chinese) any of the tones that have phonemic value in distinguishing one word from anotherCompare tone (def. 7)
rhythmic stress in verse or prose
  1. stress placed on certain notes in a piece of music, indicated by a symbol printed over the note concerned
  2. the rhythmic pulse of a piece or passage, usually represented as the stress on the first beat of each barSee also syncopation
maths either of two superscript symbols indicating a specific unit, such as feet (′), inches (″), minutes of arc (′), or seconds of arc (″)
a distinctive characteristic of anything, such as taste, pattern, style, etc
particular attention or emphasisan accent on learning
a strongly contrasting detaila blue rug with red accents

verb (ækˈsɛnt) (tr)

to mark with an accent in writing, speech, music, etc
to lay particular emphasis or stress on

Word Origin for accent

C14: via Old French from Latin accentus, from ad- to + cantus chant, song. The Latin is a rendering of Greek prosōidia a song sung to music, the tone of a syllable
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 accent

late 14c., "particular mode of pronunciation," from Middle French accent, from Old French acent (13c.), from Latin accentus "song added to speech," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + cantus "a singing," past participle of canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). Loan-translation of Greek prosoidia, from pros- "to" + oide "song," which apparently described the pitch scheme in Greek verse. The decorating sense of "something that emphasizes or highlights" is from 1972.


"to pronounce with accent or stress," 1520s, from Middle French accenter, from Old French acenter, from accent (see accent (n.)). Related: Accented; accenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper