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

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 That’s a lot of voices under one roof, but adding to the cacophony will be the howls emanating from another new Genius line: Poldo Dog Couture. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "A Genius Development: The New Designers—And Dog—Joining Moncler’s Rapidly Expanding Megastructure," 1 Feb. 2019 The humming car engine of Mr. Barbosa’s driver, who is reluctant to leave the comfort of the vehicle’s air conditioning, adds to the cacophony. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, "World’s Strangest Opera House, Deep in the Jungle, Makes Unusual Pitch to Locals," 22 May 2018 At the Palace, her 90-minute set unfurled in a cacophony of shrieks, swoops, volcanic eruptions on her piano that sometimes involved her arms, and yes, even soulful croons. James Reed, latimes.com, "Swoops, shrieks and croons: Diamanda Galás transfixes at Palace Theatre," 27 Apr. 2018 The rest of it is basically just a cacophony of string instruments being destroyed in hell, which ratchets up my anxiety to toxic levels. Verge Staff, The Verge, "Smart scares for smart people," 31 Oct. 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

4 Mar 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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