so·​nor·​i·​ty | \ sə-ˈnȯr-ə-tē How to pronounce sonority (audio) , -ˈnär- \
plural sonorities

Definition of sonority

1 : the quality or state of being sonorous : resonance
2 : a sonorous tone or speech
3 phonetics : the perceptibility or distinctness of speech sounds when spoken in a context in which stress, pitch, and sound duration are constant vowels possessing greater sonority than consonants

Examples of sonority in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The smooth melodic contour and noble warmth of this sonority is an Elgar fingerprint. Barrymore Laurence Scherer, WSJ, "A Joyful Song of Proud Tradition," 4 Sep. 2020 Though there is plenty of content, the manipulation of sonorities drives the music. New York Times, "Review: 19 Female Composers Start to Mark a Century of Suffrage," 6 Feb. 2020 Throughout, three sopranos (Eliza Bagg, Martha Cluver and Estelí Gomez) sing wordless lyrical fragments and soft sonorities, lending an eerily angelic touch. New York Times, "Review: At the Philharmonic, New Music for a Changing World," 21 Feb. 2020 Bent and sliding pitches, other worldly textures and novel sonorities have been central to her musical vocabularies, elements of East and West intermingling in compelling ways. Howard Reich,, "Chicago composer Wang Lu links cultures through music with ‘Code Switch’," 30 Sep. 2019 Conductor Storgards deserves credit for bringing forth the textural lucidity of what followed, ensuring that the winds, for instance, were unmistakably distinct from the rest of the orchestral sonority. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: A dynamic debut from violinist Ray Chen," 6 Dec. 2019 Salonen elicited eerily beautiful sonorities from Weill’s strange orchestration—for example, a slow-motion, proto-minimalist shimmer of winds in the third movement. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The L.A. Philharmonic Revisits the Weimar Republic," 9 Mar. 2020 Throughout, the 13-minute work impressed with deft part writing and handling of sonorities. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Exciting singing — maybe too consistently so — from the Santa Fe Desert Chorale," 2 Mar. 2020 Elements of atonality and sturdy diatonic harmony and moments of fleeting lyricism and blazing sonorities often merge or clash. New York Times, "Christopher Rouse, Composer of Rage and Delicacy, Dies at 70," 23 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sonority.' 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 sonority

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sonority

Time Traveler for sonority

Time Traveler

The first known use of sonority was circa 1623

See more words from the same year

Statistics for sonority

Cite this Entry

“Sonority.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Comments on sonority

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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