[ noun, adjective des-kant; verb des-kant, dis- ]
/ noun, adjective ˈdɛs kænt; verb dɛsˈkænt, dɪs- /


  1. a melody or counterpoint accompanying a simple musical theme and usually written above it.
  2. (in part music) the soprano.
  3. a song or melody.
a variation upon anything; comment on a subject.


Music (chiefly British ).
  1. soprano: a descant recorder.
  2. treble: a descant viol.

verb (used without object)

Music. to sing.
to comment or discourse at great length.
Also discant.

Origin of descant

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


des·cant·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for descant

British Dictionary definitions for descant


noun (ˈdɛskænt, ˈdɪs-)

Also: discant a decorative counterpoint added above a basic melody
a comment, criticism, or discourse

adjective (ˈdɛskænt, ˈdɪs-)

Also: discant of or pertaining to the highest member in common use of a family of musical instrumentsa descant recorder

verb (dɛsˈkænt, dɪs-) (intr)

Also: discant (often foll by on or upon) to compose or perform a descant (for a piece of music)
(often foll by on or upon) to discourse at length or make varied comments

Derived forms of descant

descanter, noun

Word Origin for descant

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