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 decrease in elasticity can also enable fat beneath the eyes to puff forward, accentuating eye bags. Genevieve Monsma, Vogue, 11 Apr. 2024 Each collection aims to accentuate the client’s identity with the uniforms becoming a key element of the guest experience. Angelina Villa-Clarke, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 The halter style dress accentuated her décolletage and arms regally. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 22 Mar. 2024 But for me, that darkness and horror only accentuate the miraculous nature of their love. Marta Balaga, Variety, 18 Mar. 2024 They’re also constructed with the brand’s contour seam to accentuate your figure and a gap-proof waistband, so there’s no need for alterations. Jessie Quinn, Peoplemag, 13 Mar. 2024 Vocally, Rodrigo has a breathy, vowel-bending delivery that can swoop into a full-tilt belt; as a performer, her acting background serves her well, including quick and subtle mannerisms — a pout here, an arched eyebrow there — that accentuate the musical mood. Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press, 24 Mar. 2024 That intimacy is only accentuated by director Emilie Whelan’s compelling staging, mere inches from the audience in OTP’s performance space in the back room of an Oakland art supplies store. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, 19 Mar. 2024 Sheer garter stockings worn under her bottom accentuated her legs. Angel Saunders, Peoplemag, 14 Mar. 2024

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 18 Apr. 2024.

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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