Definition of accent in English:


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  • 1A distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, especially one associated with a particular nation, locality, or social class.

    ‘a strong German accent’
    • ‘she never mastered the French accent’
    • ‘Certainly, you can move away from a religious culture in which you were brought up in much the same way that one can change one's accent, or mode of dress.’
    • ‘Young Frank in particular has a classic southern accent and pronunciation.’
    • ‘Since colonial times a strong Australian accent has been associated with lower class and broad comic characters.’
    • ‘Again, this contrasts sharply with the experience of middle class children who invariably speak fluent English, and with the accent of their locality.’
    • ‘The incident highlighted a typically British obsession with accent and social class and reminded Scots that in some circles their more robust accents are considered a sign of aggression.’
    • ‘I love the fact that she sings English with a real American accent and convinces you very much like a great pop singer does, entering into the drama of the poem.’
    • ‘Some individuals can also change their dialects to a limited extent in terms of accent, pronunciation, and vocabulary.’
    • ‘His voice still carried the thick, Hungarian accent, once incomprehensible, now familiar though still mysterious.’
    • ‘Even press reports of his first year in Cincinnati commented on his perfect English accent.’
    • ‘Most pirates of British origin would thus have had this distinctive accent.’
    • ‘However, differences in dialect consist primarily of slight differences in accent or pronunciation and minor grammatical usages.’
    • ‘She answered in her soft, lilting Irish accent.’
    • ‘His lilting Anglo-Indian accent had the cadences of a lyre.’
    • ‘It is odd, yet moving, to hear Lechner singing the English translations of German texts with a thick German accent.’
    • ‘His lilting Irish accent was lovely; I could have listened to it all night.’
    • ‘The very sound of her voice, with that lovely lilting accent, warmed him.’
    • ‘Their accent depends on social class and region of the country from which they came.’
    • ‘I detected a strong British accent in her voice.’
    • ‘But I don't care that he's really got an upper class accent.’
    • ‘The moment he started speaking in that melodious voice with its slightly lilting accent and almost perfect enunciation she was lost in its music.’
    pronunciation, intonation, enunciation, elocution, articulation, inflection, tone, modulation, cadence, timbre, utterance, manner of speaking, speech pattern, speech, diction, delivery
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  • 2A distinct emphasis given to a syllable or word in speech by stress or pitch.

    ‘the accent falls on the middle syllable’
    • ‘In all but parts of eastern Slovakia, the stress is on the first syllable of a word; longer words (three or more syllables) have secondary accents.’
    • ‘Mania, they were told, is simply the Italian translation of the word obsession, and anyway it's pronounced with the accent on the second syllable.’
    • ‘In Samoan words all syllables are given equal timing with a slight accent placed on the penultimate syllable.’
    • ‘TO-mah-to, they called them in Calcutta, with the accent on the first syllable, making no distinction between singular or plural.’
    • ‘Also, the accent should be on the second syllable: a-SAH-a-na.’
    • ‘Furthermore, the narrator speaks with the words, accents, and intonations of Golyadkin himself.’
    • ‘Falimako is pronounced FA-li-ma-ko with the accent on the FA.’
    • ‘These aren't imported words with genuine umlauts, but retrospective accents denoting a junked hyphen as in microorganisms or coordinated.’
    • ‘And when the British crossed the Atlantic and the accent shifted from a to e, all the vowels shifted along one position, e i o u a.’
    stress, emphasis, accentuation, force, prominence
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    1. 2.1A mark on a letter, typically a vowel, to indicate pitch, stress, or vowel quality.
      ‘a circumflex accent’
      • ‘The accents and other diacritical marks we now use to write ancient Greek are comparatively late inventions.’
      • ‘FYI - I had to leave out some of the accent marks on some of the Spanish words.’
      • ‘It's a neat trick to have a way to spell words containing both nasalization and crucially important tone without any accents or funny letters.’
      • ‘Modern Greek also retains from the ancient language a system of three pitch accents (acute, circumflex, grave).’
      • ‘Elegant accent marks can make any typical product name sound like a shimmering diamond mined from the fertile bowls of the finest dragon filled cave.’
      • ‘The Soviet Russia template has an interesting linguistic aspect: the paired contrastive accents that indicate role reversal.’
      • ‘Little accents, little umlauts, tiny apostrophes like snowflakes sting her cheeks.’
      • ‘Why do the normal keyboard letter combinations for eg French accents not work in comments boxes?’
      • ‘The spelling is fundamentally phonetic and the stress falls on the next to last syllable unless indicted by an accent mark.’
      • ‘After all, people who write in these languages on a computer want to use the correct accent marks.’
      • ‘I don't think I grasped much of the concept of where to place accents in the Spanish language, but oh well.’
      mark, diacritic, diacritical mark, accent mark, sign
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    2. 2.2Music An emphasis on a particular note or chord.
      ‘short fortissimo accents’
      • ‘Rachmaninoff indicates that the tenor carries the melody by placing accents over each of its notes.’
      • ‘Or consider the college piano student, carefully groomed to taper each Mozartean phrase just so, and deliver sharp accents in Bartok.’
      • ‘Moravec takes the opening of the first in a way that connects with Bartók's piano dances, with shifting accents.’
      • ‘The composer's intentions may be notated as dots, dashes, accents, and slurs.’
      • ‘The weight came from accents and the interpretation's fire, not from thick orchestral playing or slow tempos.’
      • ‘Sir John Barbirolli in rehearsal with the Hallé Orchestra, with subtly weighted accents on the first beat of each note group in the strings, is not to be ignored.’
      • ‘The use of unpredictable accents also can add to the rhythmic complexity of a musical work.’
      • ‘Tempos tend to be driving, and accents tend to be emphatic, strengthening the similarities between Schumann and Beethoven.’
      • ‘The rich tone and strong accents of Gabriel Beavers's solo bassoon were striking.’
      • ‘In the second to last bar of ‘Purgatorio’, Mahler wrote a chord B E-G plus an accent.’
      • ‘The meter, complexity of rhythms created by dotted rhythms, triplets and irregular accents manifest the spirit of Korean peasant dance and music.’
      • ‘Some of these have involved minutely detailed descriptions of snare drum accents and eight-to-the-bar boogie-woogie rhythms.’
      • ‘There are sharp pizzicato accents everywhere, and once again, leave it to David Finckel to look like he is having the time of his life.’
      • ‘Syncopated staccato accents gradually drop into place on top of an extended droning chord.’
      • ‘Similarly the trumpet/xylophone guy did some well-placed accents throughout, weaving his notes into the fabric of the music.’
      • ‘He might land his hardest accent in the middle of a triplet of notes, or rustle the snare and tom-tom drums with his sticks the way others brush the ride and high-hat cymbals.’
      • ‘The displacement of the normal musical accent from a strong beat to a weak one.’
      • ‘By contrast, the three-beat group is subdivided as a hemiola with accents falling on beat 1 and the second half of beat 2.’
      • ‘As in the accented baseline condition, the two kinds of accents emphasized the same tones.’
      • ‘Riemann published editions of standard keyboard works in which agogic accents were marked with the sign ^.’
  • 3in singular A special or particular emphasis.

    ‘the accent is on participation’
    • ‘Though there are sections on Welsh and Greek, the accent is on French, German, Spanish and Italian, each of which has a 24-lesson course attached.’
    • ‘The accent is on natural materials - wood and stone.’
    • ‘The accent is on making learning an enjoyable experience. ‘Look, understand, absorb and learn’ is the new mantra.’
    • ‘Instead, the accent is on improving business attitudes, leaving consumers with the impression that once again profit is being put before safety.’
    • ‘For the moment, though, the accent is on celebration.’
    • ‘The toys appear to be high-quality, and the accent is on educational products.’
    • ‘The accent is on winning and making money, not developing New Zealand talent.’
    • ‘The accent is on creating a simulated environment for the customer to feel at home.’
    • ‘The accent was on humour and song, and a patriotic theme was introduced for Coronation year.’
    • ‘The accent is on comfort rather than sportiness and its no coincidence that it looks like an S-Class that shrunk in the wash.’
    • ‘Computer dealers are finding that even machines that were considered ‘high end’ are being snapped up for use at home with the accent on value for money.’
    • ‘Moreover, they put the accent on the spiritual values connected with youth, rather than on age.’
    • ‘This idea was imposed by Western nations' heavy accent on democracy as the almighty and foremost value.’
    • ‘The accent of the speech however, fell on the steps being taken by the government to reverse these social ills.’
    • ‘The accent therefore had to fall on external action by the state, but of itself this did not require immediate and exact foreign policy choices.’
    • ‘The main accent falls on the significance of Christ's action, and the explication of sin through the figure of Adam serves to clarify this significance.’
    • ‘Again, this was simple food with the accent upon quality ingredients and a desire to avoid over-elaboration.’
    • ‘Last week I lamented the lack of tries in our now defence-dominated game, what with the accent on specialist prevention coaching.’
    • ‘There was a mismatch between theory and understanding, when the accent should have been on continuous learning.’
    • ‘Small schools have sprung up all over the country, laying accent on the quality of the relationship between teacher and student.’
    emphasis, stress, priority
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    1. 3.1A feature which gives a distinctive visual emphasis to something.
      ‘blue woodwork and accents of red’
      • ‘If you're using chives as a visual accent, just sprinkle a few over whatever you're accenting.’
      • ‘After a tour of five hotels in Lakes towns from Keswick to Coniston his recommendation is to inject a regional accent into the decor to get more guests to the check-in desks.’
      • ‘Bright red is a bold accent in clusters of anemones and candy canes.’
      • ‘She refused to meet his gaze, eyes resting instead on the gold accent of his navy blue coat, or the thick leather belt still decorating his broad chest.’
      • ‘It is all about layering the textures and then maybe adding an accent colour to spice it up a bit.’
      • ‘A key ingredient in almost every successful colour scheme is the inclusion of just two main colours and an accent colour, so be disciplined in your choices.’
      • ‘Ottomans can carry an accent colour, or add texture and thereby lift the look of a room.’
      • ‘In the typical mix of femininity and sporty styling, such accents emphasize a modern femininity.’
      • ‘A few plum accents can bring in a note of elegance to any room; try a throw pillow or two, or a plum lampshade with a fringe?’



/ˈakˌsent/ /ˈækˌsɛnt/

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Emphasize (a particular feature)

    ‘fabrics that accent the background colors in the room’
    • ‘His pale features were accented by his ebony hair.’
    • ‘Dark hair and even darker eyes accented his pale features and an amused smile touched his thin lips.’
    • ‘He had a certain smug look as the setting sun accented his facial features and bathed the luxurious office in shades of red and gold light.’
    • ‘You can accent a room's feature - such as a pipe or post - by painting it a different color from the rest of the room or de-emphasize it by painting it the same color.’
    • ‘She shrugged off her wet robe and pulled on a new one that seemed to accent her dark features even more.’
    • ‘She was dressed in a red gown, with a tight bodice that accented her womanly features.’
    • ‘In consequence they strove to accent the competitive element and eliminate any attempt at showboating at every opportunity.’
    • ‘His angular features were accented by a short bristly goatee, and a single black curl fell on his forehead.’
    • ‘In both cases, cobalt blue was used to accent certain elements including the bells, the man's shoes, shirt, and hat, and the cantons of the flags.’
    • ‘She had Egyptian features, which were accented by the mascara she was wearing and her honey-colored eyes.’
    • ‘Brown curls that framed his fragile features and accented his crystalline red-hazel eyes.’
    • ‘Following lunch the shimmering afternoon sun warmed the shoulders, and accented the floral colours of the pleasure garden and the verdant fruitfulness of the walled organic garden.’
    • ‘So my thought was to replace the flower over-abundance with a solid blue color to accent the nice yellow, by whatever means was the easiest and best way to accomplish this task.’
    • ‘The different vibrant and funky colours and ‘intelligent’ lighting perfectly accent the curtain wall and a high ceiling.’
    • ‘We all look to you to accent the positives and help us to eradicate the more negative events, and mostly you do achieve this.’
    • ‘Victoria blushed, causing Eagan to smile for a moment; she looked as cute as always, a blush so easily brought to her cheeks accenting her color.’
    • ‘It seemed to be just Helen's size, and the color perfectly accented her light brown hair.’
    • ‘Make art the focal point of your living room by accenting it with halogen spotlights.’
    • ‘A tent sized mu-mu - hot orange and pink, accenting the contours of her big, round belly.’
    • ‘The mystique surrounding Cirque du Soleil is accented by the wonderment the show evokes from the audience.’
    focus attention on, bring attention to, call attention to, draw attention to, point up, underline, underscore, accentuate, highlight, spotlight, foreground, feature, give prominence to, make more prominent, make more noticeable, play up, bring to the fore, heighten, stress, weight, emphasize, lay emphasis on, put emphasis on
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    1. 1.1Music Play (a note, a beat of the bar, etc.) with an accent.
      ‘the quick tempo means there is less scope for accenting offbeat notes’
      • ‘The first verse is followed by a short chorus, where the piano doubles the melody with the synth accenting the first note.’
      • ‘She accented every note just-short of perfectly, fading her voice before a few high notes and before an emphasized verse to add to the atmosphere of the song.’
      • ‘Kamiyama floats gorgeous shimmering melodies that fade in and out of the background, and synth squiggles periodically accent the rhythm.’
      • ‘The Latin rhythms of ‘Canzonetta Spangnuola’ were accented with flair and joy.’
      • ‘‘Golden Twig’ finds the group sliding easily into a lazily bouncy groove, with twangy guitars accenting a steady up-and-down lilt.’
      • ‘The opera diva could accent a single word, like ‘ma’ in Rosina's aria in The Barber of Seville.’



/ˈakˌsent/ /ˈækˌsɛnt/ /akˈsent/ /ækˈsɛnt/


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘intonation’): from Latin accentus ‘tone, signal, or intensity’ (from ad- ‘to’ + cantus ‘song’), translating Greek prosōidia ‘a song sung to music, intonation’.