noun ca·coph·o·ny \ka-ˈkä-fə-nē, -ˈkȯ- also -ˈka-\

Definition of cacophony



  1. :  harsh or jarring sound :  dissonance 2; specifically :  harshness in the sound of words or phrases

cacophony was our Word of the Day on 11/30/2010. Hear the podcast!

Examples of cacophony in a sentence

  1. The cacophony of phlegmatic and tubercular lungs was punctuated here and there by a moan or a scream of someone terrified, thrashing in the throes of a nightmare. —Ronald Gearles, Undoing Time, 2001

  2. Seething gas just beneath the sun's visible surface generates a cacophony of sound waves that ring the sun like a giant bell. —R. Cowen, Science News, 18 Mar. 2000

  3. Shell casings littered the highway, where a cacophony of car alarms and sobbing rent the winter air. —Jeff Stein, GQ, December 1997

  4. … no matter how forbearing he might have been, there were times when he simply needed to escape that cacophony of piping voices … —T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993

  5. The sounds of barking dogs and sirens added to the cacophony on the streets.

  6. the cacophony of a pet store full of animals

Did You Know?

Words that descend from the Greek word phōnē are making noise in English. Why? Because phōnē means "sound" or "voice." Cacophony comes from a joining of the Greek prefix kak-, meaning "bad," with phōnē, so it essentially means "bad sound." Symphony, a word that indicates harmony or agreement in sound, traces to phōnē and the Greek prefix syn-, which means "together." Polyphony refers to a style of musical composition in which two or more independent melodies are juxtaposed in harmony, and it comes from a combination of phōnē and the Greek prefix poly-, meaning "many." And euphony, a word for a pleasing or sweet sound, combines phōnē with eu-, a prefix that means "good."

Origin and Etymology of cacophony

see cacophonous

First Known Use: circa 1656

CACOPHONY Defined for English Language Learners


noun ca·coph·o·ny \ka-ˈkä-fə-nē, -ˈkȯ- also -ˈka-\

Definition of cacophony for English Language Learners

  • : unpleasant loud sounds

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