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

The beachside wedding, attended by 220 people, was planned and officiated by Mindy Weiss and featured a classy, elegant look of all-white and light pink rose accents. Kaitlyn Frey,, "Gigi Gorgeous Marries Nats Getty in Extravagant Beachfront Wedding – See Her Beautiful Dress!," 13 July 2019 Schaff also chose brass to complement the elegant style of the bar’s crystal glassware, selected for its similarity to Cuban Art deco accents. Shauna Stuart |,, "In Founder’s Station, Cayo Coco Rum Bar & Restaurante is a nod to Cuba’s pre-revolution high life," 12 July 2019 The bridge will be painted white and have blue accent fencing creating a wave of color on the bridge. Kevin Spear,, "Maitland I-4 pedestrian bridge design scaled back, now ‘accentuated by chain link’," 11 July 2019 The first floor of the building will house Uncle Buck's, a bar with a North Woods theme that includes mounted buck trophies and LEDs that provide ambient lighting as well as accent lighting. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New bar-restaurants Uncle Buck's and Red Star will take advantage of location next to Fiserv Forum beer garden," 9 July 2019 He was irked by the last Broadway revival in 2012, in which the creators played up wrenching economic stress, layered on thick New York accents and didn't have the dog Sandy arrive as the final Christmas present. Mark Kennedy, azcentral, "Martin Charnin, the man who brought 'Annie' to life on Broadway, dies," 8 July 2019 Featuring Jobim adding sparse counter melodies and accents on piano and Gilberto’s longtime drummer Milton Banana tapping out barely audible cymbal and tom-tom patterns, its eight songs defined a universe. Randall Roberts,, "Appreciation: Alongside the British Invasion, a quieter one: How João Gilberto transformed global pop music," 7 July 2019 Bellotte is carrying a circular rattan bag from Zara ($50) and a pair of small hoop earrings with dangling heart accents from Tess and Tricia ($55). Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Look Is Money: How Fashion Influencers Get Dressed Part 2," 1 July 2019 Score up to 65% off a wide range of products, including table lamps and rugs, plus an extra 25% off select items, from beds and seating to accent pillows and wall art. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "The Best July 4th Home Sales to Keep on Your Radar," 1 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The red, white and blue cake was the size of a wedding cake and was accented with sparklers. Linda Gandee/special To,, "Avon Lake closes out bicentennial year with July 4 city celebration," 8 July 2019 Nothing says summer like an espadrille, and these are accented with perforated, metallic leather that elevates them enough to wear into the office. Brittany Loggins, NBC News, "Bon voyage! The 10 best airport-to-office shoes," 28 June 2019 The Guggman Haus owners and the Boyle Racing Headquarters Foundation plan to eventually open a taproom and special events center, accented by auto-racing memorabilia, in the 20,000-square-foot building next door. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Indy 500 heritage makes a home for Guggman Haus Brewing Co.," 14 June 2019 Speaking of a rouged lip, Emily Ratajkowski accented hers with a retro makeup look with a swipe of magenta gloss on the lids, and layered chestnut bangs. Akili King, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Instagrams of the Week: Selena Gomez, Emily Ratajkowski, and More," 19 May 2019 Barbie Musgraves accented the look even further with a feather boa and a beauty transformation, going platinum from her natural brunette to suit her character's signature shade of blonde. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kacey Musgraves Is a Literal Barbie Doll on the Met Gala Red Carpet," 7 May 2019 Coffered ceilings and French oak floors accent the living room, while three sets of French doors connect the space to a covered patio. Jack Flemming,, "Ousted Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin sets up shop in Manhattan Beach," 31 May 2018 Hints of lavender accented the 3D-bead encrusted violet appliques with shimmering Swarovski crystal centers, with embroidered and beaded violets that trailed throughout out the gown. Sue Strachan,, "Elves of Oberon sets the stage for its Carnival ball," 20 Feb. 2018 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

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

17 Jul 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).


something desired as essential

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