cacophony

noun
ca·​coph·​o·​ny | \ ka-ˈkä-fə-nē, -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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 Consisting of eight members, the group's sound is a cacophony of elaborately blended instrumentation that is both traditionally Middle Eastern and modern. Sam Tornow, Billboard, "Jonny Greenwood's Junun Makes Late Night Debut on 'Colbert': Watch," 10 July 2018 But once the scientists turned on a cacophony of artificial noise, the bats would send out twice as many echolocative calls and would heavily prefer hunting the inflating frog rather than its still twin. William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics, "When Humans Make Too Much Noise, Bats Just Change How They Hunt," 15 Sep. 2016 Despite the weather causing a delay in the night’s programming, by 10:00 p.m., a joyful cacophony filled the room with celebrities, art worlders, and creatives alike discussing the exhibit, Art Basel plans, and David Hockney’s record-breaking sale. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Karlie Kloss, Gwyneth Paltrow, and More Brave the Snow to Attend the 2018 Guggenheim International Gala," 16 Nov. 2018 People rushed to my side, a cacophony of jumbled voices and hands outstretched with cups of water. Danielle Sepulveres, SELF, "My Exercise-Induced Acid Reflux Almost Made Me Stop Running," 7 Nov. 2018 Google is known for its culture of open debate at work, which in its extreme form can create a cacophony of fractious voices sparring over social and political beliefs. Kelsey Gee, WSJ, "Google Video Reveals Executive Reaction to 2016 Election," 14 Sep. 2018 Large players' photos were displayed along the way amid a cacophony of noise and cheers. Jovana Gec, Fox News, "Tens of thousands give heroes' welcome to Croatia team," 16 July 2018 From 808s & Heartbreak's soul-baring synth-pop to Yeezus' industrial cacophony, West has made reinvention central to his brand, weaponizing his creativity to short-circuit critics. Eric Renner Brown, Billboard, "Kanye West's 'Ye' Is a Missed Opportunity for Redemption," 4 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of cacophony

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cacophony

see cacophonous

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cacophony

Statistics for cacophony

Last Updated

21 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cacophony

The first known use of cacophony was circa 1656

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cacophony

cacophony

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cacophony

: unpleasant loud sounds

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on cacophony

What made you want to look up cacophony? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a complex dispute or argument

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!