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

Along with the cacophony from planes, trains and automobiles, the din pumped through headphones, at fitness classes and during rock concerts is damaging our health, the WHO’s guidelines published on Tuesday said. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, "Hear, Hear: The WHO Gives Lower Volumes a Ringing Endorsement," 9 Oct. 2018 When blasted with a cacophony of manmade noise, these hunting bats have no problems adapting. William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics, "When Humans Make Too Much Noise, Bats Just Change How They Hunt," 15 Sep. 2016 Of course, there's also the pull back to the stressful cacophony of demands. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "When life gets too demanding, the outdoors is an escape hatch," 17 May 2018 Russia simply added to the already deafening cacophony of inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation. Adam Casey, Washington Post, "Russia has been meddling in foreign elections for decades. Has it made a difference?," 8 Jan. 2018 Drilling into solid rock could create a cacophony that would risk drowning out the mole's scientific instruments. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "To Understand How the Earth Formed, and How It Might Disappear, NASA Is Drilling on Mars," 21 Feb. 2019 The installation, spread over several galleries, is spare and likewise lends coherence to what could have been a kind of painterly cacophony. Peter Plagens, WSJ, "‘Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes’ Review: A Pro in Need of Poetry," 18 Dec. 2018 That kicked off a cacophony of protest by fans including 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin. Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "Is Meek Mill the new Mumia? | Stu Bykofsky," 21 June 2018 Relax and enjoy the cacophony of sounds and myriad of colors and scents as the local shopkeepers and hawkers offer their wares. Joe Yudin, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Israel," 5 Oct. 2016

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

13 May 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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