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 The accent wall from the 1930s, which had been painted over, was recreated down to the gold leaf detailing. oregonlive, 24 Sep. 2021 Outside, there’s a pool, summer kitchen and dock. Hyland said that the property, built in 2005, features organic design elements, such as marble and wood flooring and a stone accent wall with a fireplace. Robyn A. Friedman,, 23 Sep. 2021 The apartment has ten-foot ceilings, a decorative fireplace, a walk-in closet, and a black accent wall with wood open shelves. Jenny Xie, Curbed, 21 Sep. 2021 Velvet accent chairs can also be uber-luxe or more wallet-friendly at around $150. Mia Taylor, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Aug. 2021 The motion-sensing lights offer two modes: accent, which is ideal for relaxed backyard hangs; and security, which illuminates every inch of the area with its bright light. Emily Belfiore, Better Homes & Gardens, 11 Aug. 2021 Feito accordingly speaks with a light, barely perceptible accent, and projects an easygoing glamour. Harrison Hil, Vogue, 9 Aug. 2021 This backstory also requires Golding to affect an unrefined American accent, which is a stretch and a mistake. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, 23 July 2021 This backstory also requires Golding to affect an unrefined American accent, which is a stretch and a mistake. Lindsey Bahr, Star Tribune, 22 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Light north winds accent high temperatures reaching the low 80s. Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2021 There's also been a significant uptick in searches for the color green—in the form of green kitchen cabinets, tile, and even accent chairs. Mia Taylor, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Aug. 2021 Throughout it all, woodland ingredients were ever present, whether as a focal point (a single morel roasted and served with onion jus as an amuse bouche) or garnish (a confetti of wild rose petals to accent a spring-pea dish). Lila Battis, Travel + Leisure, 1 Sep. 2021 And don't forget to add the matching hair accessories to your cart to create a botanical set that'll accent almost any outfit. Carly Kulzer, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Aug. 2021 Instead, pull out the cushions and blankets that might otherwise accent your living room. Ellie Pithers, New York Times, 19 July 2021 For those on the hunt for a more casual piece that can be worn daily, Bulgari’s coin necklace is an excellent piece that can accent a day or evening look. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 21 June 2021 Red and white flowers and knotted rope candleholders accent the blue-and-white table scheme. Krissa Rossbund, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 July 2021 The short-story writer can catch at the reader and hold him with small things, used sparingly and with great care, to accent and emphasize. The New Yorker, 18 July 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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Time Traveler for accent

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The first known use of accent was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Accent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on accent

Nglish: Translation of accent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of accent for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about accent


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