1 : harsh or discordant sound : dissonance; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases
2 : an incongruous or chaotic mixture : a striking combination
Did You Know?
Words that descend from the Greek word phōnē are making noise in English. Why? Because phōnē means "sound" or "voice." Cacophony comes from a joining of the Greek prefix kak- (from kakos,meaning "bad") with phōnē, so it essentially means "bad sound." Symphony, a word that indicates harmony or agreement in sound, traces to phōnē and the Greek prefix syn-, which means "together." Polyphony refers to a style of musical composition in which two or more independent melodies are juxtaposed in harmony, and it comes from a combination of phōnē and the Greek prefix poly-, meaning "many." And euphony, a word for a pleasing or sweet sound, combines phōnē with eu-, a prefix that means "good."
"But never in their most uneasy dreams did they expect the cacophony—a word which here means 'the sound of two metal pots being banged together by a nasty foreman standing in the doorway holding no breakfast at all'—that awoke them." — Lemony Snicket, The Miserable Mill, 2000
"Divided into groups of ten or so, the students came forward for an opportunity to play the instruments. The cacophony that resulted was matched only by the children's broad smiles as they blew tubas, banged on drums or drew bows across violins." — Steven Felschundneff, The Claremont (California) Courier, 29 Nov. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that means "pleasant sounding": c _ n _ r _ _ s.VIEW THE ANSWER
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