ac·​cen·​tu·​ate ik-ˈsen(t)-shə-ˌwāt How to pronounce accentuate (audio)
accentuated; accentuating

transitive verb

: to make (something) more prominent or noticeable : accent, emphasize
With her hair in tight curls that accentuate her pale beauty, she seems lit from within.Peter Travers
trying to accentuate the positive aspects of the program
also : intensify
accentuates the feeling of despair
accentuation noun

Did you know?

When you accentuate something you put an “accent,” or emphasis, on it. There’s no need to stress out if you don’t know the word’s history, though; its journey into the English language was very straightforward. It comes from Latin accentus, meaning “accent” (which itself comes in part from cantus, meaning “song”), and since the early 18th century, its meanings haven’t changed much. The word was initially used as a synonym of the verb accent to mean “to pronounce with greater stress or force,” which is a small leap from today’s meaning of “to make something more noticeable; to emphasize.” One excellent way to remember not only how to pronounce accentuate but also its etymological connection to song is the classic (and helpfully titled) tune “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, which has been performed by such luminaries as Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, and Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.

Examples of accentuate in a Sentence

He likes to wear clothes that accentuate his muscular build. let's accentuate the saxophones during this piece by having the sax players stand up
Recent Examples on the Web The slinky form-fitting design featured a green and metallic checkerboard print with mint green lace accentuating her neckline and midsection. Angel Saunders, Peoplemag, 29 Sep. 2023 Just stir together pantry staples: soy sauce for savoriness and depth, balsamic glaze for sweetness and tartness and extra-virgin olive oil to accentuate the fruity flavors of the Tunisian chile paste. Eric Kim, New York Times, 20 Sep. 2023 And with respect to economics specifically, the imbalance is made worse by the fact that the mainstream business press, as Tim Noah pointed out not long ago, tends to accentuate the negative and see bad news nearly always coming around the corner. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 18 Sep. 2023 The singer proudly appeared on stage in a head-to-toe cherry red outfit—an Alaïa coat over a Loewe jumpsuit, both pieces bespoke—which accentuated her pregnant belly. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 8 Sep. 2023 The faux wrap style accentuates the wearer's waist and flatters the figure. Kate Franke, Woman's Day, 6 Sep. 2023 Then, awaken your gaze with a coat of L’Oréal’s Lash Paradise Mascara and accentuate your lips with a swipe of vibrant lipstick by Revlon. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick A cream, lightweight, buildable lipstick enriched with vitamin E and avocado oil to smooth and moisturize lips. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 1 Sep. 2023 Chris Jackson/Getty Images Markle chose to accentuate her waist with a black woven Bottega Veneta belt in lieu of the original dress’s fabric tie, and wore a pair of black Aquazarra stiletto heels. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 12 Sep. 2023 The video finds Quavo performing the song and driving an ATV through a thick forest, the simple premise accentuated with some glitchy visual effects. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'accentuate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Medieval Latin accentuātus, past participle of accentuāre "to accent, stress," derivative of Latin accentus accent entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1719, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of accentuate was circa 1719


Dictionary Entries Near accentuate

Cite this Entry

“Accentuate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


ac·​cen·​tu·​ate ik-ˈsen-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce accentuate (audio)
accentuated; accentuating
: to pronounce or mark with an accent
: emphasize
the blue shirt accentuates your eyes
accentuation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on accentuate

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