Definition of dissonant in English:


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  • 1Music
    Lacking harmony.

    ‘irregular, dissonant chords’
    • ‘The Violin Concerto starts off, for instance, with dissonant sustained chords auguring a foray into some atonal world of austerity and gray shadings.’
    • ‘It may be to this very fact that a certain unwritten ‘law’ is owed: this law prefers that melodic notes dissonant to the prevailing harmony should be resolved by step.’
    • ‘The dissonant chords melt into nothingness giving the impression of not wanting to fight anymore, a cruel world left to savage itself away.’
    • ‘It also sounds heavily dissonant due to tone clusters and many tritones.’
    • ‘The simplicity reminds one of a nursery rhyme, but the melodies and chords are dissonant, insidious.’
    inharmonious, disharmonious, discordant, unmelodious, atonal, tuneless, off-key, cacophonous
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    1. 1.1Unsuitable or unusual in combination; clashing.
      ‘Jackson employs both harmonious and dissonant color choices’
      • ‘The lack of volume can be particularly dissonant when bus conversations clash with your music during the daily commute.’
      • ‘Whatever the origins of the malaise, this dissonant combination of urban potential, challenges and inadequate responses can only lead to more frustration and cynicism among citizens.’
      • ‘If her slightly warped geometry and dissonant, high-keyed colors sometimes suggest the cartoon world of Elizabeth Murray, Cecily Kahn is more deeply rooted in the tradition of abstraction.’
      • ‘Cappiello is the Italian-born father of the Modern Poster, whose technique utilized strong, flat and sometimes dissonant colors against dark backgrounds.’
      • ‘His forms are typically harsh and jagged, and his colours dissonant.’
      • ‘This community consists of a chorus of different and sometimes dissonant voices, all funded centrally to foster diversity.’
      • ‘He is, of course, also drawn to printed textiles and to the way you can juxtapose apparently dissonant colours to create new harmonies.’
      • ‘Cognitive dissonance theory - the idea that people try to avoid having inconsistent or dissonant thoughts - could also play a role, the researchers say.’
      • ‘Rather, we will hear two different and dissonant styles of speaking and they will spawn endless confusions between them.’
      • ‘Like Gideon, her mother only existed in scraps of moments, in colors and sound, all disconnected and dissonant.’
      • ‘His acquisition sparks dissonant responses from his two best friends, Marc, an aeronautical engineer and Yvan, who after a life in ‘textiles’ has found a new job as a sales agent for a wholesale stationery business.’
      • ‘THERE ARE TWO Africas: the bush - ancient, agrarian, slow to change - and the city - vibrant, dissonant, evolving by the minute.’
      • ‘The first dissonant note of the debate came from an MP who accused the president of ‘scurrying off to his bunker’ after the attacks.’
      • ‘I just don't see what is so dissonant about that.’
      • ‘They're uncomfortable, and sometimes dissonant, but mostly they're strangely fun, which makes all these other qualities more bearable.’
      • ‘They evoke dissonant narratives of colonial history.’
      • ‘The complexity seems more interesting to me aesthetically, the tying together of multiple voices into a kind of whole from consonant to dissonant.’
      • ‘I suppose this dissonant finding is expected, if disappointing.’
      • ‘Why are there all these dissonant voices giving speeches, some of them conspicuous?’
      • ‘It is as this dissonant crescendo of drama builds that the novel's cleverness reveals itself.’
      incongruous, anomalous, irreconcilable, discrepant, disagreeing, clashing
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/ˈdisənənt/ /ˈdɪsənənt/


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘clashing’): from Old French, or from Latin dissonant- ‘being discordant’, from the verb dissonare, from dis- ‘apart’ + sonare ‘to sound’.