cacophony

noun
ca·​coph·​o·​ny | \ ka-ˈkä-fə-nē How to pronounce cacophony (audio) , -ˈkȯ- also -ˈka-\
plural cacophonies

Definition of cacophony

1 : harsh or jarring sound : dissonance sense 2 specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases
2 : an incongruous or chaotic mixture : a striking combination a cacophony of color a cacophony of smells

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Cacophony Is a Noisey Word

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."

Examples of cacophony in a Sentence

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 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 Shell casings littered the highway, where a cacophony of car alarms and sobbing rent the winter air. — Jeff Stein, GQ, December 1997 … 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 The sounds of barking dogs and sirens added to the cacophony on the streets. the cacophony of a pet store full of animals
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Recent Examples on the Web

In this incarnation, Tinlicker morphs the plucky alt-pop cacophony to a deep, dark progressive banger that's even richer than the original. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "First Spin: The Week's Best New Dance Tracks From Avicii & David Guetta, Tinlicker, Petit Biscuit & More," 23 Aug. 2019 Dozens of shots can be heard, including a cacophony of gunfire at the end as police office engaged the gunman. Michael Zennie, Time, "Dayton Shooting Lasted Just 32 Seconds and Left 9 Dead. Here's the Latest on the Tragedy," 5 Aug. 2019 But then again, the undeniably made-for-TV moment also had all the elements, as a cacophony of critics will quickly remind you, of the grandstanding photo-ops that some say characterize the Trump era. Author: Foster Klug, Anchorage Daily News, "Kim-Trump border meeting: History or just a photo-op?," 30 June 2019 Ireland: Finn Lough Bubble Domes Set on a private peninsula in Northern Ireland, the Bubble Domes at Finn Lough offer visitors a serene respite from the cacophony of everyday life. National Geographic, "Pop into amazing bubble hotels around the world," 10 May 2019 For a women who demanded silence and austerity in her house, no doubt the cacophony of her nine children and 42 grandchildren was at times overwhelming. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Queen Victoria Like as a Mother?," 13 Jan. 2019 In the past week family members, political operatives, and friends have asked me why the cacophony has grown so deafening this time, after decades of possible pretexts for such protests. Adrian Carrasquillo, The New Republic, "Puerto Ricans Are Tired of Being Powerless," 25 July 2019 The human wall barred him from getting closer; the surrounding cacophony drowned out his voice. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Sam is the Man, but Ehlinger can’t do it all for Texas," 16 July 2019 Baby sea turtles sprint across the beach, and the the forest echoes with the cacophony of exotic birds. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Trouble in paradise, forgotten vets, remembering Tiananmen," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cacophony.' 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 cacophony

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cacophony

see cacophonous

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Statistics for cacophony

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for cacophony

The first known use of cacophony was circa 1656

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More Definitions for cacophony

cacophony

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cacophony

: unpleasant loud sounds

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