ac·​cent | \ˈak-ˌsent, chiefly British -sənt\

Definition of accent 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an effort in speech to stress one syllable over adjacent syllables also : the stress thus given a syllable a word with the accent on the second syllable

2 : a distinctive manner of expression: such as

a : a way of speaking typical of a particular group of people and especially of the natives or residents of a region spoke with a Russian accent

b : an individual's distinctive or characteristic inflection, tone, or choice of words usually used in plural

3 : rhythmically significant stress on the syllables of a verse usually at regular intervals

4a : a mark (such as ´, `, ˆ) used in writing or printing to indicate a specific sound value, stress, or pitch, to distinguish words otherwise identically spelled, or to indicate that an ordinarily mute vowel should be pronounced

b : an accented letter

5 music

a : greater stress given to one musical tone than to its neighbors

b : accent mark sense 2

6a : emphasis laid on a part of an artistic design or composition

b : an emphasized detail or area especially : a small detail in sharp contrast with its surroundings

c : a substance or object used for emphasis a plant used as a decorative accent

7 : a mark placed to the right of a letter or number and usually slightly above it: such as

a : a double prime

b : prime

8 : special concern or attention : emphasis an accent on youth

9 archaic : utterance


ac·​cent | \ˈak-ˌsent, ak-ˈ\
accented; accenting; accents

Definition of accent (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give special attention or prominence to (something) TV shows that accent youth : to make (something) more emphatic, noticeable, or distinct columns that accent the vertical lines of the building

2a : to pronounce (part of a word) with greater stress or force : stress Accent the second syllable of the word "before."

b : to mark with a written or printed accent

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Other Words from accent


accentless \ -​ləs \ adjective

Examples of accent in a Sentence


Regional accents are common in the U.S. She spoke with an American accent. The tourist had a foreign accent. He has a heavy southern accent. The word “before” has the accent on the last syllable. Put the accent on the first syllable of the word. The accents in the French word “émigré” show how the letter “e” should be pronounced.


the town's promotional literature accents its vital role in American history
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The younger generation of Liberal, Kansas — a small town in the southwestern part of the state — is beginning to develop a distinctive new accent. Oona Goodin-smith,, "Roofers build relationships, Meek Mill goes back to court | Morning Newsletter," 19 June 2018 For his part, Ansel went with a vocal approach to make Suki crack, donning a few different accents while delivering some of your best tweets to try and shake Suki’s composure. Tommy Tsao, Teen Vogue, "Ansel Elgort and Suki Waterhouse Compete in Teen Vogue's Compliment Battle," 26 Apr. 2018 Apu owns a Kwik-E-Mart and speaks in a stereotypical Indian accent while doing stereotypically cringe-worthy things. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "D'Oh! Hank Azaria Did What The Simpsons Could Not," 25 Apr. 2018 And at Green Engine, a bright Haverford space with wood accents and potted plants scattered throughout, workers recently received new employee handbooks. Katherine Nails,, "Consumers, coffee shops see changes after Starbucks incidents - but will they last?," 10 July 2018 Smiley, who possesses a slight British accent and a stunning resemblance to former NFL quarterback Warren Moon, is there for each step, calling out corrections and encouragement in equal measure. Jon Tayler,, "Million Dollar Moves: After His Unlikely Baseball Career Flamed Out, Rinku Singh's Next Stop Is WWE," 3 July 2018 Aged cream furniture with light yellow accents and stone colored details give the room a nostalgic feel. Louisville Courier Journal, The Courier-Journal, "Blast from the past: This Glenmary home is a collector's paradise," 28 June 2018 The physically slight actress here sports a fairly thick accent and talks very rapidly, with the result that some of the lines are missed. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Girls & Boys': Theater Review," 28 June 2018 The scene An L-shaped space with red accents and retro diner-esque touches. Devra First,, "Southern spirit at Soleil in Dudley Square," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Today, this summery style comes in countless iterations — some accented with tassels and pompoms, while others are rendered in interesting shapes. Sari Anne Tuschman,, "Summer’s hottest bag trend shouldn’t be saved for just beach days," 12 July 2018 Apart from the pristine white walls and furniture accented with rich wooden colors, the home also features five masonry fireplaces, seven full and three half luxury bathrooms, seven bedrooms, and a five-car garage. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Incredible multi-million dollar mansion for sale in Houston," 10 July 2018 Squid’s chewy texture is mitigated by a careful lattice of shallow cuts, its flavor accented with a touch of tobiko and shiso. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "No-frills Sushi Nakano one of the best casual sushi restaurants in Phoenix," 10 July 2018 The interior of the home is raw and clean, with the concrete walls accented sparingly with wooden shelving units, leaving plenty of space for greenery to liven up the clean gray palette. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "Recycled concrete and brick home has zero carbon footprint," 9 July 2018 But there are other tasty versions, including those accented with balsamic glaze or topped with pesto. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Caprese salad meets grilled bread in this easy summer appetizer," 8 July 2018 But its frontages were subtly mismatched, and its walls accented with golden, three-dimensional friezes embedded with natural motifs like flowers, seeds, roots and stalks. Sam Lubell, New York Times, "A Glasgow Architect’s Masterpiece Is Damaged, but Not His Magic," 2 July 2018 Turns out, a hot late-June night and a stage accented with tiki torches was the perfect setting for a crowd eager to raise their beers and sing along with a happy-go-lucky presence like Currington as their ringmaster. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 3: BlocBoy JB, Billy Currington, MILCK and more," 30 June 2018 Photo: Rodrigo Cardoso for The Wall Street Journal The simple shape belies a complex array of soaring spaces, interior vistas and secluded bedrooms, accented with quirky details, like cars visible from the dining room. J. S. Marcus, WSJ, "Where Luxury Meets a Prefab Home," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'accent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of accent


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for accent


Middle English, "modulation of the voice," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, "modulation of the voice, prominence in pitch on a given syllable," going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin accentus (loan translation of Greek prosōidía), from ad- ad- + cantus "song," action noun derivative of canere "to sing" — more at chant entry 1, prosody

Note: The word occurs in Old English as accent in the sense "accent mark" in Byrhtferth's Enchiridion, but there is no continuity between this and later uses.


borrowed from Middle French accenter "to pronounce with greater stress," in part derivative of accent accent entry 1, in part borrowed from Medieval Latin accentāre, variant of accentuāre — more at accentuate

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Statistics for accent

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for accent

The first known use of accent was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for accent


ac·​cent | \ˈak-ˌsent, ak-ˈsent\
accented; accenting

Kids Definition of accent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to give a greater force or stress

2 : to mark with a written or printed accent


ac·​cent | \ˈak-ˌsent \

Kids Definition of accent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a way of pronouncing words shared by the people of a particular country or region

2 : greater stress or force given to a syllable of a word in speaking or to a beat in music

3 : a mark (as ˈ or ˌ) used in writing or printing to show the place of greater stress on a syllable

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Comments on accent

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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