dis·​so·​nance ˈdi-sə-nən(t)s How to pronounce dissonance (audio)
: lack of agreement
the dissonance between the truth and what people want to believe
especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's actions and one's beliefs compare cognitive dissonance
: an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement
the mingling of bitter comedy and stark tragedy produces sharp dissonancesF. B. Millett
: a mingling of sounds that strike the ear harshly : a mingling of discordant sounds
especially, music : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord

Example Sentences

the dissonance between what we are told and what we see with our own eyes
Recent Examples on the Web Critics of the galloping rollout of generative AI have seized on this kind of dissonance to show that perhaps these chatbots are not ready for widespread use, especially when presented as a reference. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 27 Feb. 2023 Copperman built a rhythm track, and Urban kicked into a guitar groove that launched with a C chord, complicated by an extra D note that creates dissonance with two of the three foundational tones in that chord. Tom Roland, Billboard, 9 Jan. 2023 And so that is going to create profound cognitive and political dissonance within the GOP. CBS News, 13 Nov. 2022 For investors accustomed to policies that stoke the economy, this can create dissonance. Martha White, CNN, 7 Oct. 2022 But there’s a growing sense of dissonance as the announcements keep coming in certain sectors, even as the labor market remains hot. Taylor Telford, Washington Post, 12 Dec. 2022 This led to a couple of editorials and a much broader discourse about how Trump and other narcissists gaslight people into a paralyzing state of dissonance. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 28 Nov. 2022 The five works on the program were, each in their own way, connected to issues that arise from the proximity, dissonance, nostalgia and longing arising between countries and cultures of emigration. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Jan. 2023 The dissonance between their definitions—family as expansive and communal; family as stiflingly small—feeds some of Yellowstone’s most resonant interests: What is family, really? Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 16 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dissonance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


see dissonant

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dissonance was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near dissonance

Cite this Entry

“Dissonance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonance. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​so·​nance ˈdis-ə-nən(t)s How to pronounce dissonance (audio)
: an unpleasant combination of musical sounds

Medical Definition


dis·​so·​nance ˈdis-ə-nən(t)s How to pronounce dissonance (audio)
: inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's actions and one's beliefs see cognitive dissonance

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