ac·​cent | \ ˈak-ˌsent How to pronounce accent (audio) , 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
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 entry 1


ac·​cent | \ ˈak-ˌsent How to pronounce accent (audio) , ak-ˈsent \
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 \ ˈak-​ˌsent-​ləs How to pronounce accentless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of accent in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb the town's promotional literature accents its vital role in American history
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Eastern-European Jewish accent Mel did was persona non grata in 1950. Washington Post, "Carl Reiner, TV comedy pioneer and probing straight man to Mel Brooks, dies at 98," 30 June 2020 Whether your vibe is traditional or midcentury, this accent mirror makes an elegant statement in the hallway or living room. Krystin Arneson, CNN Underscored, "Wayfair is taking up to 70% off during its July 4th Clearance sale," 25 June 2020 The two men feuded on-air and online two years ago when Hannity objected to a Kimmel joke about Melania Trump's accent. CBS News, "Jimmy Kimmel apologizes for wearing blackface in past sketches," 23 June 2020 In the late 1960s, Frito-Lay introduced the Frito Bandito, a cartoon caricature sporting a gold tooth and sombrero and speaking with an exaggerated stereotypical imitation of Mexican accent. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Eskimo Pie, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben's and Cream of Wheat are changing. Are the Washington Redskins next?," 19 June 2020 Paint isn't the only way to create an impactful accent wall. Laura Lambert, Better Homes & Gardens, "Bold, Colorful Tile Is Everywhere Right Now: Here's How to Get the Look," 11 June 2020 The divisions that education and accent cleave run deep in British society. The Economist, "Bagehot Johnson and Starmer fight for the working-class vote," 11 June 2020 Ricky Ricardo had a terrible accent, too, but people understood him. Ivana Hrynkiw |, al, "Two men sentenced for drug trafficking and no chance at parole now free," 6 June 2020 Try this as an accent wall or for the backing of an old bookshelf. Popular Science, "Stylish, non-permanent home upgrades all renters should know," 9 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This could take many forms, from escooters and bike lanes to things like microtransit, to accent public transit and reduce the congestion that private vehicles bring to cities. Doug Johnson, Wired, "Microtransit Gives City Agencies a Lift During the Pandemic," 20 June 2020 The exterior is accented with stone, stucco and IPE veneer, with large windows and sliding glass doors. Dallas News, "Garvey Homes readies five-bedroom home in North Dallas area," 31 May 2020 Their blossoms are light blue or lavender and can be accented with white sections. Southern Living, "Jacaranda Blooms Are Warm-Weather Signs of Spring," 27 May 2020 As the real Selah comes into view through Paloma’s adoring eyes, their inner lives are accented beautifully by composer Aska Matsumiya’s discordant, jazzy and jangly score. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Amazon premiere ‘Selah and the Spades’ gives high school movies a new queen bee," 16 Apr. 2020 Details throughout are beautifully accented, from ceilings to floors and large windows. Valerie Sweeten, Houston Chronicle, "English manor awaits at close-in Memorial," 15 Feb. 2020 His bold, bright ensemble of purples and reds is accented by his signature dangling cross earring and a pair of too-clean-for-this city white boots. Ineye Komonibo,, "Jordan Fisher Is Our Wholesome New Heartthrob," 12 Feb. 2020 The ring is accented with pavé diamonds around the band. Aurelie Corinthios,, "Joshua Jackson and Wife Jodie Turner-Smith Spotted for the First Time Since Marriage News," 23 Dec. 2019 The iron windows are all accented with mesquite, a local hardwood. Elisabeth Malkin, ELLE Decor, "See Inside an Idyllic Retreat in Northern Mexico," 18 Dec. 2019

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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Learn More about accent

Time Traveler for accent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for accent

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Accent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for accent


ac·​cent | \ ˈak-ˌsent How to pronounce accent (audio) , 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 How to pronounce accent (audio) \

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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