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

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 Cosmetically speaking, an optional appearance package includes black side and hood stripes with reflective red, white, or orange accent stripes. Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Orders Open at Starting Price of $52,915," 14 Oct. 2020 Pattinson has a grand old time, raving his sermons in a thick Southern accent no less enjoyable for its inauthenticity. Bill Goodykoontz, Detroit Free Press, "‘Devil All the Time’ is a harrowing trip worth taking," 18 Sep. 2020 The guy in front of me saw no problem with reaching out and bare-handedly grasping a Chicago Bears supporter while communicating something mock-aggressive in a thick Russian accent. Kent Russell, Harper's Magazine, "America’s Game," 15 Sep. 2020 Pattinson has a grand old time, raving his sermons in a thick Southern accent no less enjoyable for its inauthenticity. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "How Riley Keough makes Netflix's 'The Devil All the Time' a harrowing journey worth taking," 12 Sep. 2020 Brown was known for holding a microphone to his mouth and melodically chirping out a sermon in a Jamaican accent as cars drove by in front of the Sam’s Club and Walmart at the Lakeshore Drive/Lakeshore Parkway exit on Interstate 65 in Homewood. al, "‘Jesus Man,’ street preacher of Lakeshore Drive, dies," 11 Aug. 2020 Staterooms have huge windows, while public spaces, including a sundeck, have teakwood accent tables and daybeds in a calming neutral palette. Nancy Trejos, Travel + Leisure, "The Cool New Cruise Ships Coming to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands," 3 Oct. 2020 All of the Glorias are wonderful at their parts too, although some might ding Vikander for her accent. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, "‘The Glorias’ paints smart portrait of Steinem," 2 Oct. 2020 All of the Glorias are wonderful at their parts too, although some might ding Vikander for her accent. Lindsey Bahr, Star Tribune, "Review: A smart portrait of a living legend in 'The Glorias'," 29 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb From air fryers and instant pots to TV stands and accent chairs, here are our favorite picks from the Target Deal Days sale event. NBC News, "Target Deal Days: Sales to shop during Prime Day 2020," 12 Oct. 2020 Get up to 80% off on everything from beds and sofas to rugs and accent chairs, and enjoy a slew of flash deals. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, "Wayfair's Epic Way Day Sale Is Here and the Deals Are Amazing," 23 Sep. 2020 The entryway of the home features bead-board details, and the nearby dining room has large windows overlooking the property and wood beams that accent the ceiling. Mary Grace Granados, Dallas News, "See an updated 1970s Dallas home with a loft, a two-bedroom guest house, a greenhouse and a workshop," 18 Sep. 2020 The offensive game plan put together by Stefanski is supposed to accent the running attack with Nick Chubb and Hunt. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "What can the Cleveland Browns deliver this season? How about a likable team? – Terry Pluto," 12 Sep. 2020 Trump obviously wanted to accent the positive on the virus from the beginning and, besides a brief period of greater sobriety, has done it ever since. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Trump’s ‘Play It Down’ Debacle," 11 Sep. 2020 Pine floors and wood and steel roof trusses accent the concrete walls of this contemporary estate in Austin, Texas. Christina Poletto, WSJ, "Concrete Cements Itself as a High-End Finish," 3 Sep. 2020 This could take many forms, from e-scooters and bike lanes to things like microtransit, to accent public transit and reduce the congestion that private vehicles bring to cities. Doug Johnson, Smithsonian Magazine, "Cities Are Eyeing Microtransit During COVID-19 Pandemic," 22 June 2020 Decorate a red and green tree with a combination of the poinsettia and holly lights, or use green and white bulbs to accent a few red cardinal lights. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, "This Pretty Ceramic Christmas Tree Was Made for Cardinal Lovers," 28 Aug. 2020

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

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Accent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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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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