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 syncopative (audio) , ˈsin-​ \ adjective

Examples of syncopation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 Around the 10:30 mark, a steady cymbal pulse creates a groove not unlike Meshuggah or Opeth, providing somewhat of an 4/4 anchor in the syncopation storm. Christopher R. Weingarten,, "Tool's Fear Inoculum is a deeply satisfying return to form," 1 Sep. 2019 Western classical music had long known syncopation. Heather Mac Donald, National Review, "The American Songbook," 22 Aug. 2019 And in this performance there was no missing Bernstein’s love of jazz syncopation and rhythmic propulsion. Howard Reich,, "CSO at Ravinia review: Marin Alsop poetically launches Bernstein tribute," 13 July 2018 Conversations in Cantonese, Tagalog, English and Mandarin started and stopped in the same impatient syncopation. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "In the chain-averse Bay Area, why are we so crazy for Asian restaurant chains?," 31 May 2018

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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Statistics for syncopation

Last Updated

23 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Syncopation.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for syncopation


How to pronounce syncopation (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on syncopation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with syncopation

Spanish Central: Translation of syncopation

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

Comments on syncopation

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


dull or mediocre

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