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

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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 Welser-Most and the strings basked in what is truly a work for them and of its time, a brilliant study in angst and dissonance straight from the eve of war in 1939. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra shines in Haydn, Bartok on third ‘In Focus’ series episode: Review," 13 Nov. 2020 This is one nagging dissonance at the heart of Maroney’s book. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, "Why Private Eyes Are Everywhere Now," 28 Sep. 2020 Coming at a time when taxpayer money is being used to soften the impact of lockdowns that could bankrupt companies and throw millions out of jobs, the dissonance risks putting bankers on a collision course with regulators. Marion Halftermeyer, Bloomberg.com, "Bonuses, Dividends Pit Europe Banks Against Economic Wardens," 3 Nov. 2020 People found a way to reconcile the dissonance between the two cultures in their everyday lives. Popular Science, "Landing on the moon only made us love it more," 12 Oct. 2020 The dissonance of that encounter — Neo-Confederates on a major civil rights anniversary?!? Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "New book on Confederate monuments topples myths about Civil War general," 28 Oct. 2020 Working on the show made Bravo appreciate his own culture for both its beauty and, at times, amusing dissonance, traits that are reflected in his character as well. Natalie Morin, refinery29.com, "Lucas Bravo, Emily In Paris‘s Heartthrob Chef, Is Enchanté To Meet You," 5 Oct. 2020 But that dissonance was precisely the chord the game’s co-director and writer, Neil Druckmann, wanted to strike. Washington Post, "Our favorite articles from Launcher’s first year," 15 Oct. 2020 The mixed message created by the suits and feet creates a slight dissonance that vibrates throughout like a sustained chord. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "David Byrne's American Utopia," 15 Oct. 2020

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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Learn More about dissonance

Time Traveler for dissonance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dissonance

Last Updated

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dissonance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonance. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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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

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