[ noun, adjective des-kant; verb des-kant, dis- ]
See synonyms for descant on
  1. Music.

    • a melody or counterpoint accompanying a simple musical theme and usually written above it.

    • (in part music) the soprano.

    • a song or melody.

  2. a variation upon anything; comment on a subject.

  1. Music (chiefly British).

    • soprano: a descant recorder.

    • treble: a descant viol.

verb (used without object)
  1. Music. to sing.

  2. to comment or discourse at great length.

Origin of descant

1350–1400; Middle English discant, descaunt<Anglo-French <Medieval Latin discanthus, equivalent to Latin dis-dis-1 + cantus song; see chant

Other words from descant

  • des·cant·er, noun

Words Nearby descant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use descant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for descant


noun(ˈdɛskænt, ˈdɪs-)
  1. Also: discant a decorative counterpoint added above a basic melody

  2. a comment, criticism, or discourse

adjective(ˈdɛskænt, ˈdɪs-)
  1. Also: discant of or pertaining to the highest member in common use of a family of musical instruments: a descant recorder

verb(dɛsˈkænt, dɪs-) (intr)
  1. Also: discant (often foll by on or upon) to compose or perform a descant (for a piece of music)

  2. (often foll by on or upon) to discourse at length or make varied comments

Origin of descant

C14: from Old Northern French, from Medieval Latin discantus, from Latin dis- 1 + cantus song; see chant

Derived forms of descant

  • descanter, noun

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