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

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 Thousands of workers in the medical device industry gathered here this week for the MedTech Conference, creating an eerie dissonance with Disneyland tourists clad in Mickey Mouse ears and fanny packs. Lizzy Lawrence, STAT, 11 Oct. 2023 That goes against the whole purpose of a festival, which is to provide a forum for debate and dissonance. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Feb. 2024 This dissonance between the veneer of refinement and the sinister forces pulsing beneath has become especially stark in recent decades, as the United Kingdom, stripped of its empire, has found a new role as a commodious base for global kleptocrats. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 But the show belongs to Glover and Erskine, who play well together, in harmony and dissonance. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Warning of a long conflict, the Israeli statements exposed a growing dissonance between the domestic perception of the timing and goals of the war and increasing international impatience in the face of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 14 Jan. 2024 To explain the dissonance between the celebratory reception to the new ETFs and their blatant incompatibility with the Nakamoto ethos, bitcoiners point to the difficulty in achieving widespread adoption to date. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 11 Jan. 2024 This internal conflict can create emotional dissonance, leading to resistance against certain behaviors or actions, despite our conscious desire to pursue them. Anna Tan, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 The certainty of uncertainty This shared sense of mission, even months into one of Israel’s longest wars, is still evident – despite the high cost and, oftentimes, dissonance of the current moment. Neri Zilber, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dissonance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 2 Mar. 2024.

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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