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

One of the more popular Peppa memes is a vlogger finding Peppa inside unusual places (like chocolate), then feigning surprise with a Peppa-ish accent. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "How Peppa Pig became an LGBTQ icon," 29 July 2019 Your kids will grow up speaking with a French-Floridian accent. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Flo Canada! Baseball’s Daffy Pitch for a Combination Tampa Bay-Montreal Franchise," 21 June 2019 Mike was an easygoing guy with a Texas accent and a cynical sense of humor. Robert H. Scales, Twin Cities, "Robert Scales: Understanding the cost of combat, 50 years later," 16 June 2019 Janke, a native of Berlin who still speaks with a thick German accent, left Aequitas in April 2015., "Janke becomes second Aequitas executive to plead guilty; could get three years or more," 10 June 2019 Run by the Alice Waters of Greece, Katerina Xekalou, Avli specializes in Cretan food with a slight French accent, the same way Chez Panisse does with American fare. Adam Gopnik, Town & Country, "My First Visit to the Greek Islands Turned Out to Be a Journey Home," 20 May 2019 Modestly built, with fading red hair, blue eyes and a gravelly Midwestern accent, Smith has an amiable, self-effacing demeanor that belies his nine-figure wealth and intense work ethic. Romesh Ratnesar/redmond, Time, "How Microsoft's Brad Smith is Trying to Restore Your Trust in Big Tech," 8 Sep. 2019 In Oswald, Paine is trotted out as a blond, apple-pie-baking Southern belle with a thick Texas accent. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "In searching for the next ‘Hamilton,’ the makers of the musical ‘Oswald’ traverse the JFK minefield," 23 Aug. 2019 Shatner’s Bhaer begins, with Shatner deploying his take on a German accent. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Is Timothée Chalamet as smoldering as William Shatner was in the 1970s version of ‘Little Women’?," 17 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The stage quiets, and NKOTB re-emerge in sleek black suits accented with just the tiniest amount of sparkle. Rebecca Schuman, Longreads, "I’ll Be Loving You Forever," 14 Aug. 2019 Her back was covered with an enormous, three-dimensional nose accented with a nose ring, completing the face. Deborah Martin,, "New York artist Narcissister brings mind-blowing work to Artpace in San Antonio," 19 July 2019 Still, even with the pile of leaves accumulating from the large tree, the garden is a calming, peaceful retreat that Donna has accented with urns, wind chimes and sculptures. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville couple refurbished their Victorian home to highlight historic touches," 6 June 2019 To further accent this narrow victory, the gap between the Stones and Sheeran (No. Eric Frankenberg, Billboard, "P!nk Conquers July Boxscore Charts," 22 Aug. 2019 The star accents Pony loves to incorporate in her eye makeup are reflected in the collection's celestial-themed packaging. Devon Abelman, Allure, "MAC Is About to Drop a Tarot Card-Inspired Collection With K-Beauty Star Pony," 22 Aug. 2019 Either way, the actress' latest lob is a dark-chestnut shade accented with caramel highlights and styled into subtle, undone waves that has her right on trend for summer 2019. Rachel Lubitz,, "Sandra Bullock Just Debuted The Ultimate Summer Hairstyle," 13 July 2019 Handrails and stair steps can be accented and illuminated by rope lighting. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "Angie’s List: Outdoor lighting improves safety and aesthetics," 12 July 2019 Last night, Ari accented her signature high ponytail with a little dose of House pride that any Harry Potter fan can appreciate (except maybe Gryffindors): a Slytherin headband. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Ariana Grande's Harry Potter Slytherin Headband Only Costs $8," 11 July 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

17 Sep 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).


concealment of treason or felony

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