dis·​so·​nant ˈdi-sə-nənt How to pronounce dissonant (audio)
: marked by dissonance : discordant
: harmonically unresolved
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 Perhaps fear of the dissonant 20th-century masterpieces book-ending the concert? Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Nov. 2023 On his graduation in 1959, Mr. Del Tredici continued his studies with Earl Kim and Roger Sessions at Princeton University, and he was strongly drawn to the dissonant, intensely chromatic style that prevailed among the composers there. Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2023 And then that huge, dissonant, gorgeous, ugly guitar chord that begins the song. Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone, 2 Nov. 2023 For those unaccustomed to Hill’s latest style, her musical digressions often sound dissonant. Salamishah Tillet, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2023 While one person’s trash might be another’s treasure, here are 10 dissonant horror-cinema gems that arguably missed the mark, for various reasons, on meeting the definition of their categorizations but remain fascinating, entertaining, and worthy of acknowledgment. Nicholas Bell, SPIN, 24 Oct. 2023 But the musical language suggests that pretty tonal harmonies are happy times, while dissonant sections are struggles to be overcome with more pretty chords. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Oct. 2023 The smell of vinegar, brash and dissonant, wafted out of my childhood kitchen often, tickling my nose. G. Daniela Galarza, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 The magical battle in the final episode of WandaVision was tonally dissonant from the dramedy that came before. TIME, 6 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near dissonant

Cite this Entry

“Dissonant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonant. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​so·​nant ˈdis-ə-nənt How to pronounce dissonant (audio)
: marked by dissonance
dissonantly adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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