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

The neighbors come out to see the source of the cacophony, then disappear and return with bamboo sticks, with brooms and blankets. Veronica Chambers, New York Times, "Viewfinders: 10 Y.A. Novelists Spin Fiction From Vintage Photos," 28 June 2019 And while Dochety used the cacophony as motivation from the far end of the counter, Sebba heard it as evidence of triumph. Michael Dumas, al.com, "Annual oyster-eating crown goes to Distinguished Young Woman Madison Dochety," 24 June 2019 La Brera removes itself from much of that cacophony. Michael J. Bailey, BostonGlobe.com, "In Milan, a low-tech saunter through a mecca of high fashion," 18 June 2019 Now picture her sporting tight white jeans and a black leather jacket, making her way carefully (in 4-inch platform sandals) through a garish and loud multiplex lobby with its cacophony of video-game arcades. Vance Muse, Houston Chronicle, "Houston socialite Lynn Wyatt recalls her times hanging out with friend Elton John," 14 June 2019 At times, the instruments sounded like cacophony and feedback was a problem, off-and-on, during the opening set. Dan Emerson, Twin Cities, "Saxophonist Maceo Parker covers all the bases with high-energy Dakota show," 11 June 2019 Aided by Andrew King conducting an offstage orchestra, Gerdes and the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus brought Ives’ beautiful cacophony and humane optimism to wonderful life. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Rare works shine in La Jolla Symphony & Chorus’ season-closing concert," 11 June 2019 While the origins of monasticism are not entirely clear, scholars do know that Christian monks drew upon philosophical views about noise and distraction and, in some cases, chose to leave the cacophony of urban life for the wilderness. Kim Haines-eitzen, The Conversation, "The struggle to find silence in the ancient monastic world – and now," 10 June 2019 Google, a crucial part of the internet’s behind-the-scenes police force, is struggling simultaneously to curate a cacophony of voices within its own abode and to define what is allowed in search and on YouTube. Douglas Macmillan, WSJ, "Google vs. Google: How Nonstop Political Arguments Rule Its Workplace," 1 May 2018

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

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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