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


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

Every year, the Salzburg Festival puts an accent on a composer or two. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Mozart & Co.," 30 Aug. 2019 After all these years, Espinoza’s English is fluent but dusted with an accent. USA TODAY, "'It's real. It's violent': After El Paso, Latinos across America live in fear," 16 Aug. 2019 After all these years, Espinoza’s English is fluent but dusted with an accent., "After El Paso, Latinos across America voice a new kind of fear," 16 Aug. 2019 Last Christmas' Trailer: Emilia Clarke's Cynical Elf Charmed by Mysterious Henry Golding The first look of Paul Feig's latest reveals a serious note to the holiday rom-com and Emma Thompson doing an accent. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "Last Christmas," 15 Aug. 2019 September puts an accent on more practical skills such as negotiating a better price or earning interest on bank accounts. Tribune Content Agency,, "Horoscope for Aug. 5, 2019: Happy birthday Jesse Williams; Pisces, be discreet," 5 Aug. 2019 The whole family sounds American, but Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has an English accent. Mick Lasalle,, "COVER: Lion King review," 18 July 2019 In order to play a convincing Billy, Dacre puts on an American accent. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "7 Dacre Montgomery Facts That’ll Make You Want to Binge “Stranger Things” All Over Again," 12 July 2019 Richard Shepard's quirky comedic crime tale gave him a delicious character to play in Mr. Fontaine, a suave crime lord with an oddly indeterminate accent and a dangerous edge. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "Before watching Demián Bichir's new show 'Grand Hotel,' make sure you see these 5 films," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Duchess Meghan, a royal patron of the organization, arrived to the event at London's flagship John Lewis store wearing a white button-down shirt and black trousers from the range, accented with a thin brown belt. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Returns from Maternity Leave Wearing Her New Smart Works Collection," 12 Sep. 2019 The worn brown couch, accented with an afghan throw, epitomizes the TV family that lounges on it: fashion-unconscious, and proud of it. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Our definitive ranking of TV-show furniture, from the 'Friends' couch to the Iron Throne," 4 Sep. 2019 Benham worked with the couple to choose playful pieces that punctuate the sleek, unadorned architecture: colorful rugs and textiles, a custom selection of artworks, and shelves accented with books and personal objects. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Inside a Luxe Lincoln Park Home that Sacrifices Nothing," 16 Aug. 2019 Walk past the shiny bar space into the dappled courtyard, surrounded by brick and accented with Mediterranean-blue tiles. Bill Addison,, "The pizzeria in ‘Eat Pray Love’ has a new Hollywood knockoff. It’s a flop.," 11 July 2019 And here, 260 feet below the surface in secretive reefs, the warriors accented with vibrant purple are fish. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "A fish called Wakanda: New purple fish honors 'Black Panther'," 11 July 2019 McCarthy has created a world that at times feels as intimate as any stage production and at other points takes on a grandeur accented with enough reminders to keep the film anchored in a safe literary harbor. Rick Bentley,, "‘Ophelia’ review: Daisy Ridley breathes life into Shakespeare role not relegated to Hamlet’s girlfriend," 3 July 2019 For a more subdued take on red white and blue, try bringing the colors together in disparate parts of your look—a blue and white striped shirt accented with chunky white earrings and sunglasses blend effortlessly with a classic red lip. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "8 Pretty Ways to Wear Red, White, and Blue This Fourth of July," 21 June 2019 Antonio Banderas and a thickly German-accented Gary Oldman play the real-life figures Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack, heads of a law firm not known or employed for its scruples. Los Angeles Times, "The Netflix debate: Should you see ‘Marriage Story,’ ‘Laundromat’ and ‘The King’ at home or in a theater?," 5 Sep. 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

9 Oct 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

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


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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