syn·​co·​pa·​tion | \ ˌsiŋ-kə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce syncopation (audio) , ˌsin- \

Definition of syncopation

1 : a temporary displacement of the regular metrical accent in music caused typically by stressing the weak beat
2 : a syncopated rhythm, passage, or dance step

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Other Words from syncopation

syncopative \ ˈsiŋ-​kə-​ˌpā-​tiv How to pronounce syncopation (audio) , ˈsin-​ \ adjective

Examples of syncopation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the deep, resounding voice of a TV announcer, Wong announced the guest as the sultan of smooth, the Sammy Sosa of syncopation and other endearing appellations. Jon Bream, Star Tribune, "Cory Wong, Dave Koz mix funk and smooth-jazz with fun and flair at Crooners," 7 Sep. 2020 But harmonic subversions slip in, and a quasi-hoedown evolves into jazzy syncopations. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Voices of Change ensemble serves up more than a century of ‘modern music’ at SMU’s Caruth Auditorium," 18 Feb. 2020 All true, but there’s something more to Kander’s music, as well: a jazz undertow, expressed in deep-swing rhythm, kinetic syncopation and an irrepressible forward drive. Howard Reich,, "Cabaret diva Karen Mason takes on Kander and Ebb’s ‘All That Jazz’ and more," 7 Nov. 2019 Fielding a request to do a spontaneous piece, Wheaton starts with an up-tempo, plinking line of notes, adds a brisk allegro melody that plays in syncopation against it, and finally pipes in a series of cascading arpeggios. Rand Richards Cooper,, "In Our Midst: Gabriel Wheaton’s classical, contemporary, opulent and wildly eclectic one-man band," 15 Nov. 2019 That’s because, according to Hydrow founder and national team coach Bruce Smith, rowing has a tendency to encourage rhythmic syncopation with others. Roy M. Wallack,, "Old-style rowing machines and punching bags gain a new edge," 4 July 2019 The syncopations and intricate counterpoint create great complexity. Los Angeles Times, "Review: L.A. Master Chorale revives Golijov’s startling prophetic, globally warmed ‘Oceana’," 22 Oct. 2019 There followed some barely audible drumming on a tabletop from a man who was enthusiastically engaged with the syncopations. Diane Williams, Harper's magazine, "Five Stories," 28 Oct. 2019 Brass and winds beat out syncopations as though every left turn were a right turn. Los Angeles Times, "Review: With Jaime Martín in the driver’s seat, LACO concert is a thrill ride," 30 Sep. 2019

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

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for syncopation

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The first known use of syncopation was in 1597

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Cite this Entry

“Syncopation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for syncopation



English Language Learners Definition of syncopation

music : musical rhythm in which stress is given to the weak beats instead of the strong beats


syn·​co·​pa·​tion | \ ˌsiŋ-kə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce syncopation (audio) \

Kids Definition of syncopation

: an instance of temporarily accenting a normally weak beat in music to vary the rhythm

More from Merriam-Webster on syncopation

Nglish: Translation of syncopation for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about syncopation

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