[ dis-uh-nuhnt ]
/ ˈdɪs ə nənt /
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disagreeing or harsh in sound; discordant.
out of harmony; incongruous; at variance.
Music. characterized by dissonance.
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Origin of dissonant

1400–50; late Middle English dissonaunte (<Anglo-French ) <Latin dissonant- (stem of dissonāns, present participle of dissonāre to sound harsh), equivalent to disson- (derivative of dissonus discordant; see dis-1, sound1) + -ant--ant


dis·so·nant·ly, adverbun·dis·so·nant, adjectiveun·dis·so·nant·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does dissonant mean?

Dissonant is an adjective used to describe noise that’s harsh and inharmonious.

It’s also used to describe things that are in stark disagreement or that lack consistency.

In both cases, a close synonym is discordant. The state of being dissonant is dissonance.

In the context of music, dissonant is used to describe a combination of sounds thought to be inharmonious (often ones intentionally composed to be so). Such a combination (or a chord or interval that features such disharmony) is called dissonance.

In psychology, the term cognitive dissonance refers to the unease a person feels when they have two or more contradictory or incompatible beliefs. Such thoughts can be described as dissonant.

Example: Leaders in both factions of the party promised harmony, but so far there has been nothing but dissonant rhetoric.

Where does dissonant come from?

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

The word dissonant is used in several different contexts, including music, psychology, cultural studies, and poetry. In all cases, it indicates disagreement or discord between different elements. In music, dissonant often describes modern compositions that produce a jarring effect that’s the opposite of harmony. In poetry, dissonant is used to describe poems or lines that use words intended to create a jarring effect, much like in music. This is called dissonance, and it’s the intentional avoidance of assonance—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 dissonant?

  • dissonantly (adverb)
  • undissonant (adjective)
  • undissonantly (adverb)
  • dissonance (noun)

What are some synonyms for dissonant?

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


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

How is dissonant used in real life?

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



Try using dissonant!

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

A. discordant
B. disharmonious
C. inharmonious
D. harmonious

How to use dissonant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dissonant

/ (ˈdɪsənənt) /

discordant; cacophonous
incongruous or discrepant
music characterized by dissonance

Derived forms of dissonant

dissonantly, adverb

Word Origin for dissonant

C15: from Latin dissonāre to be discordant, from dis- 1 + sonāre to sound
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