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In phonetics, an emphasis given to a syllable of speech by making it louder than the rest of the word. This emphasis may have no meaning; for example, Czech words are regularly stressed on the first syllable. It may, however, distinguish the meanings of similarly spelled but differently pronounced words; for example, permit is stressed on the first syllable as a noun and on the second as a verb. It may also be applied to a word to express its importance in a sentence. See alsointonation.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on stress, visit Britannica.com.