[ dis-uh-nuhns ]
/ ˈdɪs ə nəns /
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inharmonious or harsh sound; discord; cacophony.
  1. a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion.
  2. an unresolved, discordant chord or interval.Compare consonance (def. 3).
disagreement or incongruity.
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Origin of dissonance

1565–75; <Late Latin dissonantia, equivalent to disson- (see dissonant) + -antia-ance
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does dissonance mean?

Dissonance is harsh, inharmonious noise—cacophony.

It can also refer to stark disagreement or lack of consistency.

In both cases, a close synonym is discord.

In the context of music, the word dissonance is used in a specific way to refer to a combination of sounds thought to be inharmonious (often ones intentionally composed to be so). It can also refer to a chord or interval that features such disharmony.

In music and in general, dissonance is the opposite of consonance, which means harmony, agreement, or accord.

In psychology, the term cognitive dissonance refers to the unease a person feels when they have two or more contradictory or incompatible beliefs.

An adjective form of dissonance is dissonant.

Example: Leaders in both factions of the party promised harmony, but so far there has been nothing but dissonance and constant arguing.

Where does dissonance come from?

The first records of the word dissonance come from the 1500s. It ultimately derives from the Latin verb dissonāre, meaning “to sound harsh,” from dissonus, meaning “discordant.”

The word dissonance is used in several different contexts, including music, psychology, cultural studies, and poetry. In all cases, it involves disagreement or discord between different elements. In music, dissonance is often used in modern compositions with the intention of producing a jarring effect that’s the opposite of harmony. The idea of cultural dissonance is similar to culture shock, in which there is an overwhelming and uncomfortable sense of confusion upon entering an unknown or rapidly changing environment. Such cultural dissonance often results from an extreme difference in values and traditions, among other things. In poetry, dissonance is the intentional avoidance of assonance, which is the repetition of the same vowel sounds in different words to create what’s called a vowel rhyme.

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What are some other forms of dissonance?

What are some synonyms for dissonance?

What are some words that share a root or word element with dissonance




What are some words that often get used in discussing dissonance?

How is dissonance used in real life?

The word dissonance is used in several different specific contexts. It’s also commonly used in a general way.



Try using dissonance!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of dissonance?

A. disharmony
B. inconsistency
C. disparity
D. accord

How to use dissonance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dissonance



/ (ˈdɪsənəns) /

a discordant combination of sounds
lack of agreement or consistency
  1. a sensation commonly associated with all intervals of the second and seventh, all diminished and augmented intervals, and all chords based on these intervalsCompare consonance (def. 3)
  2. an interval or chord of this kind
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