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Word of the Day
Sunday, December 22, 2002

Definitions for descant

  1. (Music) (a) A melody or counterpoint sung above the plain song of the tenor. (b) The upper voice in part music.
  2. A discourse or discussion on a theme.
  3. (a) To sing or play a descant. (b) To sing.

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Citations for descant
These to their nests,
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung.
John Milton, Paradise Lost
When they start on one of their polarised descants, whether on state education, water rates, crime, the BBC or whatever, they sound like a bumble bee and a wasp fighting in a jam jar. Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph
Origin of descant
Descant is derived from Medieval Latin discantus, "a refrain," from Latin dis- + cantus, "song," from the past participle of canere, "to sing."