dis·​so·​nant | \ ˈdi-sə-nənt How to pronounce dissonant (audio) \

Definition of dissonant

1 : marked by dissonance : discordant
3 : harmonically unresolved

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dissonant

dissonantly adverb

Did You Know?

The root of "dissonant" is the Latin verb sonare. Can you guess what "sonare" means? Here's a hint: some related derivatives are "sonata," "supersonic," and "resonance." Does it sound to you as if "sonare" has something to do with sound? If so, you're right. In fact, sonare means "to sound, is related to the Latin noun sonus (meaning "sound"), and is an ancestor of the English word sound. "Dissonant" includes the negative prefix dis-. What is "dissonant," therefore, sounds inharmonic, conflicting, or clashing.

Examples of dissonant in a Sentence

a dissonant chorus of noises arose from the busy construction site
Recent Examples on the Web There’s little in the way of comfort and joy to be found in the story of a child freezing on an urban corner, nor in the spare and sometimes dissonant harmonies in the music. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: Cantus’ Christmas concerts spin sad but affecting tales," 12 Dec. 2019 His immoral role is confirmed by his musical lines; often quickly rising and falling in dissonant melodies. Amy Lorette Damron Kyle, Quartz, "The feminist reboot opera deserves," 20 Dec. 2019 The Tsimané have shown perceptual differences before: In an earlier study by McDermott and his colleagues, the Tsimané rated dissonant combinations of pitches, which Western listeners find grating, to be just as pleasant as more consonant chords. Quanta Magazine, "Perceptions of Musical Octaves Are Learned, Not Wired in the Brain," 30 Oct. 2019 Thievery Corporation has finessed blending dissonant styles and world music into an abstract soundscape for more than 20 years. Alison Medley, Houston Chronicle, "Thievery Corporation brings sonic dreamscapes and reggae sound to Houston fans," 17 Nov. 2019 Lazarus’s canjo produces a distinctive, sometimes dissonant, sound. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, "How a Busker Became an International Advocate for People with Albinism," 28 Oct. 2019 Her polite statements of patriotism were dissonant from the messaging from other parts of her husband’s team. Jada Yuan, Washington Post, "United we stand: Melania Trump and Karen Pence make a statement with S.C. trip," 1 Nov. 2019 The results are dissonant but radiate gravitas — fitting for a sometimes absurdist show centering on the dysfunctional family of an aging media mogul. Sonia Rao, Houston Chronicle, "‘Succession’ composer makes music secondary character for series," 12 Aug. 2019 The paranoid Hjarne is portrayed in dissonant, snarly music for the orchestra, but Gertrude and Lyra are often accompanied by sweetly lapping sounds. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "A fairy-tale world premiere and Janácek's brutal but redemptive 'Jenufa' impress at Santa Fe Opera," 6 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of dissonant

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dissonant

Middle English dissonaunte, from Latin dissonant-, dissonans, present participle of dissonare to be discordant, from dis- + sonare to sound — more at sound entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dissonant

Time Traveler for dissonant

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about dissonant

Statistics for dissonant

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dissonant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonant. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dissonant


How to pronounce dissonant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dissonant

formal : not in agreement with something
music : not in harmony

More from Merriam-Webster on dissonant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dissonant

Comments on dissonant

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!