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 accent (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 Or add an additional braid or twist or leaf accent, or alternate elements to show off your cresting crust creativity. Beth Segal, cleveland, 4 June 2021 What a blend of technical precision (the Eastern Pennsylvania accent, the hobbling-around after a spill during an Episode 1 chase) and emotional acumen. Michael Phillips,, 1 June 2021 Spotify had a patent granted in January of this year that would allow the app to analyze a number of factors through your voice, and make song recommendations based on your emotional state, accent, gender and age. Frank Fitzpatrick, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Raising us in Canada provided us with certain stamps of approval: the ability to speak English without an accent, a fluency in Western culture, a deep appreciation for Celine Dion. Sadiya Ansari,, 31 May 2021 Her accent — English by way of the West Indies — drips with scorn and condescension. Cate Young, Vulture, 25 May 2021 Come twilight, dine at N7, a French bistro with a Japanese accent ( Andrew Nelson, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021 There was too much, maybe, accent on the monetary policy pillar, too much weight, but in the end, that was what saved the euro. Oliver Staley, Quartz, 27 Mar. 2021 But Spanish was still her first language, so her accent, along with trying to pick up the slang and culture of living in Texas, made the transition difficult for a middle-schooler. Stefan Krajisnik, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Simple staccato guitar notes accent the verses and nearly disappear before huge washes of drums, strings, and keys sweep across the chorus. Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone, 8 June 2021 The primary suite on the first floor has a vaulted ceiling and wooden beams to accent it, along with a fireplace. Mary Grace Granados, Dallas News, 10 Feb. 2021 The textures from the boot, spur, and rope will accent any Texas-themed room. Jennifer Miko, Chron, 22 May 2021 Disturbing the peace to accent the day is optional. Kevin Dayhoff,, 7 May 2021 Grande has had some of her best collaborations with producers, and that usually happens when their light touches can accent her big voice. Justin Curto, Vulture, 26 Apr. 2021 Word choice, speech rate, intonation patterns, accent – these can all change in response to different interlocutors. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Apr. 2021 Bringing the beach to you Start with a neutral color palette and accent it with blues and warm tans. Jessica Dailey, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2021 The home bears a light and airy interior design, with wood beams that accent the ceilings and doorways. Mary Grace Granados, Dallas News, 25 Feb. 2021

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

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Accent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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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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