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

Italy’s new left-right coalition is a case of government by cognitive economic dissonance. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Italy Drives in Reverse," 18 July 2018 But sorting through such dissonance, trying to reconcile the first and second Lukes, seems a task beyond the powers of your average major league team. SI.com, "Prospect and Pariah," 16 May 2018 And for European audiences at the time, the dissonance between the two wasn’t confined to matters of culture. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Upside’ Review: Uplift on Demand," 10 Jan. 2019 There’s a lot of dissonance between the two approaches. Parker Molloy, The Verge, "By not banning Alex Jones, Twitter is making a political choice," 8 Aug. 2018 Dumakude and Okpokwasili, the two vocalists in the cast, sing a mournful, somber tune — one of a few moments in this 90-minute work which abandon dissonance in sound, if not in words. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, "'Poor People’s TV Room' mixes Boko Haram history with Oprah — and is a tough, tough piece to unpack," 13 Apr. 2018 The dissonance gives rise to the perennial question about the believability of Chinese banks’ financial reports. Andrew Peaple, WSJ, "Chinese Banks Can’t Escape the Country’s Gloom for Long," 31 Oct. 2018 But there’s a dissonance there, given how audiences are used to taking in these movies and the character of Michael Myers. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The new Halloween is a slasher movie with an actual message," 19 Oct. 2018 An interior décor of opulent dissonance was devised for the home by Ogden Codman. Michael Henry Adams, Town & Country, "Inside the Auction of Eileen Slocum's Astounding Newport Mansion," 28 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for dissonance

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for dissonance

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

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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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Comments on dissonance

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


something valued as if it were money

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