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


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

Before the screening, the red carpet was buzzing with accents and languages ranging far and wide. Kendall Lindsay, Vogue, "A Poignant Premiere: The Tribeca Film Festival Screens At the Heart of Gold," 29 Apr. 2019 The weekender is made of textured cotton canvas with leather accents, which also feels very nice. Tara Gonzalez, Glamour, "This Weekender Bag Makes Me Not Horrible at Packing," 26 Apr. 2019 The look, which could have come straight out of a fairy tale, featured a light pink body with yellow accents. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift Wore a Pastel Gown to the Time 100 Event," 24 Apr. 2019 Affleck eventually decided on a 6.10 carat fancy intense pink diamond (radiant cut) with white diamond side accents. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "Jennifer Lopez's Pink Diamond Made Her an Engagement Ring Influencer," 23 Mar. 2019 All in all, the film looks like a lot of fun, with plummy British accents to boot. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Thor Ragnarok stars reunite, kick alien butt in MiB International trailer," 20 Dec. 2018 Barbara looked incredible in a long black gown with leather accents, while Dylan wore an all white suit. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Dylan Sprouse Brings Shake Shack for GF Barbara Palvin At Victoria's Secret Fashion Show," 3 Dec. 2018 Both wore outfits with emerald accents to match Eugenie's emerald tiara, which also matched her earrings and her mom's outfit, coincidentally, Pippa Middleton's outfit. The Editors, Marie Claire, "A Page Boy at Princess Eugenie's Wedding Recovered Like a Champ After Tripping Up," 12 Oct. 2018 The contemporary décor uses contrasting hues of shale and black plastics with (reserved) piano black accents and the blue stitching (on the door trim, seats, steering wheel and shift boot. Mark Maynard,, "2018 Kia Niro PHEV: The future of plug-and-play," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The earrings were accented by Meghan's signature messy bun. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "The Queen Gave Meghan Markle the Earrings the Duchess Wore at the Wellchild Awards," 4 Sep. 2018 The Duchess of Cambridge appeared in an all-black outfit—including a turtleneck, skinny jeans, and pair of low-heeled ankle boots by Aquatalia—accented by a gray blazer. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears a Chic Gray Blazer in Essex," 30 Oct. 2018 In their place are bright and airy pieces of modern furniture accented by warm wood and soaring windows, plus a one-starred Michelin restaurant, Refectorio. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Hotels in Europe: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Sporting a midnight blue suit accented by robust black trim on his jacket and pants, Styles added a formal look to the impressive series of tour wardrobe choices being documented at Twitter profile @HarryWoreWhat. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "5 ways Harry Styles charted his own course in Indianapolis," 28 June 2018 Other items include mesh, high-waisted briefs, red briefs accented with black ties, and a lilac bra covered in black lace. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Playful Promises and Gabi Fresh Created Another Size-Inclusive Lingerie Line," 18 Apr. 2019 The simple frock, accented with a calla lily, originally retailed for a mere $35, but is currently on clearance for $17.50. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Ivanka Trump Just Wore a $35 Dress From Target," 6 June 2017 According to Battle, Markle's Toronto home was very light, bright, and effortless, a look which was accented with more formal details and glamour. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Nursery Could Look Like This," 26 Mar. 2019 His skin is infectiously dewy and his platinum-blond pixie cut is usually accented by a pair of chandelier earrings or an ornate headpiece. Vogue, "Meet Prince Dru, the Modern Prince Charming Raiding Cinderella’s Wardrobe," 8 Mar. 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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Statistics for accent

Last Updated

22 May 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on accent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with accent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for accent

Spanish Central: Translation of accent

Nglish: Translation of accent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of accent for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about accent

Comments on accent

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highly pertinent or appropriate

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