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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Both menus are studded with intriguing accents on familiar items. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "At 3 Squares Diner there’s a dog that won’t bark," 12 July 2018 The OnePlus 6 Red has a shimmery, glossy finish with silver accents, and will be coming to Europe and North America. Sam Byford, The Verge, "Red OnePlus 6 announced for July 10th release," 2 July 2018 All Her Special Guests, from Selena Gomez to Shawn Mendes Dressed in a black chiffon paisley-print Coach dress with velvet bow accents, Gomez poses in a car throughout the campaign, which was shot by photographer Steven Meisel. Jillian Ruffo,, "Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Selena Gomez's Latest Coach Campaign," 2 July 2018 Image XXXTentacion, dressed in a blue denim jacket under soft lighting, laid in a dark polished coffin at center stage, surrounded by a spray of black flowers with metallic accents. New York Times, "XXXTentacion Is Mourned by Thousands at a Memorial in Florida," 27 June 2018 Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman has ruled the red carpet lately, from his all-white Versace ensemble with gilded accents at the Met Gala to his all-black Givenchy couture look with elaborate silver embroidery at the Oscars. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Chadwick Boseman Wears Artsy Texas Tuxedo to the MTV Awards," 18 June 2018 Knotty white oak floors with a driftwood-like finish lend a beachy feel against white walls with square-edge tongue-and-groove accents. Marni Elyse Katz,, "After renting for years on Martha’s Vineyard, building a getaway all their own," 15 June 2018 Five men with English accents worked as a group, splitting up to approach fans in the queue for the sales office. Washington Post, "Scalpers still operating at World Cup despite crackdown," 14 June 2018 This studio offers a vintage, timeless look with accents of black and weathered wood to help cultivate your inner DIY design skills. azcentral, "Board and Brush Scottsdale Workshop," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To keep everything looking and feeling sleek, turn your eye to chic neutral hues that are accented by infusions of technicolor intensity. Lauren Hubbard, ELLE Decor, "How to Master a Modern Italian Look at Home," 28 June 2018 The walls are white, the floor concrete and the furniture is wood-accented. Justin Phillips,, "Six things to know about Creator, San Francisco’s new burger robot restaurant," 27 June 2018 The interior design is contemporary with flowing lines and arcs that are well accented by satin-metallic trim. Mark Maynard,, "2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti: fast-casual Italian," 15 June 2018 The main video board traded its fancy graphics for a simpler approach, a black background accented by yellow lettering that mimicked the primitive technology from decades ago. Matthew Defranks,, "Caleb Smith, Marlins kick off 25th anniversary weekend with win over Padres," 9 June 2018 Steak tartare arrives premixed and spread on sourdough squares, accented by bone-marrow butter and an eye-opening Sriracha aioli. Phil Vettel,, "Review: Glam-rich Blvd is ready for its close-up," 24 May 2018 The sprawling 2,898-square-foot home features a dusty blue exterior accented by redwood siding, with minimalist interiors with white walls and dark hardwood floors. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Renovated Malibu post-and-beam wants $2M," 23 May 2018 Its dark fruit shows a savory edge, accented by the impressions of iron and garrigue. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "Tasting notes: The diverse, dynamic wines of Lodi," 20 May 2018 Unlike the vintage crystals Gerstein used for Lively's Met Gala look, these are tiny stones that accented the glitter flecks inside the red polish (Toggle to the Top) used to paint the Deadpool heart on her right hand and face on her left. Samantha Sasso,, "The Unique Way Blake Lively Supported Ryan Reynolds For Deadpool 2," 15 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about accent

Statistics for accent

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for accent

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on accent

What made you want to look up accent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!