dis·​so·​nance | \ ˈdi-sə-nən(t)s How to pronounce dissonance (audio) \

Definition of dissonance

1a : 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
b : an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement the mingling of bitter comedy and stark tragedy produces sharp dissonances— F. B. Millett
2 : a mingling of sounds that strike the ear harshly : a mingling of discordant sounds especially, music : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord

Examples of dissonance in a Sentence

the dissonance between what we are told and what we see with our own eyes
Recent Examples on the Web Kikka loved fashion with a capital F – sherbet colours, luxe textures and the dissonance of casual-wear when paired with a pop of drama. Lena Dunham, Vogue, 5 Nov. 2021 The Academy is more than aware of the public dissonance. Samantha Hissong, Rolling Stone, 1 Oct. 2021 That odd feeling of impropriety isn’t necessarily a statement about the trustworthiness of the writer or their ideas, but a sense of dissonance at the book as an object. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2021 This dissonance may push the person to leave the company. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 23 Sep. 2021 The dissonance of its imagery — a $50 Napa wine evoking themes of imprisonment — startled them. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Oct. 2021 There is dissonance between the teachings of Christ and the attitude of some clergymen, Father Alliët said. New York Times, 1 Oct. 2021 But upon being challenged on some key questions about the withdrawal, there was a notable dissonance. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 29 Sep. 2021 The physical lockdowns created physical and emotional national barriers as a practical response to the pandemic and led to further dissonance between and within diverse groups. Shaheena Janjuha-jivraj, Forbes, 28 Sep. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of dissonance

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

History and Etymology for dissonance

see dissonant

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Time Traveler for dissonance

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

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Dictionary Entries Near dissonance

dissolving shutter


dissonance treatment

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Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dissonance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonance. Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for dissonance


dis·​so·​nance | \ ˈdi-sə-nəns How to pronounce dissonance (audio) \

Kids Definition of dissonance

: an unpleasant combination of musical sounds


dis·​so·​nance | \ ˈdis-ə-nən(t)s How to pronounce dissonance (audio) \

Medical Definition of dissonance

: inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's actions and one's beliefs — see cognitive dissonance

More from Merriam-Webster on dissonance

Nglish: Translation of dissonance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dissonance for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dissonance


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