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

Definition of dissonant

1 : marked by dissonance : discordant
3 : harmonically unresolved

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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

The series has also not been shy about tackling the conflict between religiously conservative ideology and LGBTQ+ acceptance — embodied by Rob McElhenney’s dopey, cognitively dissonant Mac. Daniel Menegaz, EW.com, "Why It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and star Rob McElhenney deserve Emmys," 24 June 2019 The insult sparks a loud, dissonant chord that sets the opera in motion with a chugging, Sondheimian rhythm and restless momentum, vigorously conducted by Carolyn Kuan. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "Review: A ‘Stonewall’ Opera Reflects the Diversity of Queer History," 23 June 2019 Oklahoma! also provocatively strums the dissonant chords present in the text — and in modern America, especially for women. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Why Everyone Is So Obsessed With Sexy Oklahoma!," 4 June 2019 Among the reasons for its success are the recurring use of the dissonant interval that opens the work, tolling bells, gently swaying rhythms, sighing vocal lines for soprano and for tenor. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, "Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ Review: Mixing Sacred and Secular," 30 Nov. 2018 Now, with the help of dissonant horns and lingering tones, Amazon becomes a supervillain, a corporation run by Lex Luthor or Hydra with world domination in mind. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Amazon’s holiday commercial remixed with Captain America’s score is like a Black Mirror episode," 26 Nov. 2018 The emotional, dissonant scene reflected the increasingly divided nation that Trump leads, one gripped by a week of political violence and hate and hurtling toward contentious midterm elections that could alter the path of a presidency. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trumps pay tribute at synagogue where 11 were fatally shot," 31 Oct. 2018 There is no darkness in it, other than the slightly dissonant orchestral depiction of Chaos in the opening section. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘The Creation’ Review: Genesis in the Dark," 23 July 2018 The music is equal parts dissonant, jarring, and melodic, sometimes sounding more like a sci-fi score than an opera. Paul Ross, Popular Mechanics, "I Am Become Opera: An Atomic Show In the Shadow of Los Alamos," 27 July 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for dissonant

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for dissonant

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

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More Definitions for dissonant



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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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