Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The relative prominence of a particular syllable of a word by greater intensity or by variation or modulation of pitch or tone.
  • n. Vocal prominence or emphasis given to a particular syllable, word, or phrase.
  • n. A characteristic pronunciation, especially:
  • n. One determined by the regional or social background of the speaker.
  • n. One determined by the phonetic habits of the speaker's native language carried over to his or her use of another language.
  • n. A mark or symbol used in the printing and writing of certain languages to indicate the vocal quality to be given to a particular letter: an acute accent.
  • n. A mark or symbol used in printing and writing to indicate the stressed syllables of a spoken word.
  • n. Rhythmically significant stress in a line of verse.
  • n. Music Emphasis or prominence given to a note or chord, as by an increase in volume or extended duration.
  • n. Music A mark representing this.
  • n. Mathematics A mark used as a superscript to distinguish among variables represented by the same symbol.
  • n. Mathematics A mark used as a superscript to indicate the first derivative of a variable.
  • n. A mark or one of several marks used as a superscript to indicate a unit, such as feet (ʹ) and inches (〞) in linear measurement.
  • n. A distinctive feature or quality, such as a feature that accentuates, contrasts with, or complements a decorative style.
  • n. Something that accentuates or contrasts something else, as a touch of color that makes the features of an image stand out.
  • n. Particular importance or interest; emphasis: The accent is on comfort. See Synonyms at emphasis.
  • transitive v. To stress or emphasize the pronunciation of.
  • transitive v. To mark with a printed accent.
  • transitive v. To focus attention on; accentuate: a program that accents leadership development.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A higher-pitched or stronger articulation of a particular syllable of a word or phrase in order to distinguish it from the others or to emphasize it.
  • n. Emphasis or importance in general.
  • n. A mark or character used in writing, in order to indicate the place of the spoken accent, or to indicate the nature or quality of the vowel marked.
  • n. Modulation of the voice in speaking; the manner of speaking or pronouncing; a peculiar or characteristic modification of the voice, expressing emotion; tone.
  • n. A word; a significant tone or sound.
  • n. Expressions in general; speech.
  • n. Stress laid on certain syllables of a verse.
  • n. A regularly recurring stress upon the tone to mark the beginning, and, more feebly, the third part of the measure.
  • n. A special emphasis of a tone, even in the weaker part of the measure.
  • n. The rhythmical accent, which marks phrases and sections of a period.
  • n. The expressive emphasis and shading of a passage.
  • n. A mark used to represent specific stress on a note.
  • n. A mark placed at the right hand of a letter, and a little above it, to distinguish magnitudes of a similar kind expressed by the same letter, but differing in value, as y', y''.
  • n. A mark at the right hand of a number, indicating minutes of a degree, seconds, etc., as in 12' 27'', meaning twelve minutes and twenty-seven seconds.
  • n. A mark used to denote feet and inches, as in 6' 10'', meaning six feet ten inches.
  • n. Emphasis laid on a part of an artistic design or composition; an emphasized detail, in particular a detail in sharp contrast to its surroundings.
  • n. A very small gemstone set into a piece of jewellery.
  • n. A distinctive feature or quality.
  • n. Utterance.
  • v. To express the accent of vocally; to utter with accent.
  • v. To mark emphatically; to emphasize; to accentuate; to make prominent.
  • v. To mark with written accents.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A superior force of voice or of articulative effort upon some particular syllable of a word or a phrase, distinguishing it from the others.
  • n. A mark or character used in writing, and serving to regulate the pronunciation; esp.: (a) a mark to indicate the nature and place of the spoken accent; (b) a mark to indicate the quality of sound of the vowel marked.
  • n. Modulation of the voice in speaking; manner of speaking or pronouncing; peculiar or characteristic modification of the voice; tone
  • n. A word; a significant tone.
  • n. Stress laid on certain syllables of a verse.
  • n.
  • n. A regularly recurring stress upon the tone to mark the beginning, and, more feebly, the third part of the measure.
  • n. A special emphasis of a tone, even in the weaker part of the measure.
  • n. The rhythmical accent, which marks phrases and sections of a period.
  • n. The expressive emphasis and shading of a passage.
  • n.
  • n. A mark placed at the right hand of a letter, and a little above it, to distinguish magnitudes of a similar kind expressed by the same letter, but differing in value, as y', y″.
  • n. A mark at the right hand of a number, indicating minutes of a degree, seconds, etc.
  • n. A mark used to denote feet and inches.
  • transitive v. To express the accent of (either by the voice or by a mark); to utter or to mark with accent.
  • transitive v. To mark emphatically; to emphasize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To express the accent of; pronounce or utter with a particular stress or modulation of the voice: as, to accent a word properly.
  • To give expression to; utter.
  • To mark with a written accent or accents: as, to accent a word in order to indicate its pronunciation.
  • To emphasize; dwell upon; accentuate (which see).
  • n. A special effort of utterance by which, in a word of two or more syllables, one syllable is made more prominent than the rest.
  • n. A mark or character used in writing to direct the stress of the voice in pronunciation, or to mark a particular tone, length of vowel-sound, or the like.
  • n. In printing, an accented or marked letter; a type bearing an accentual or diacritical mark.
  • n. Manner of utterance; peculiarity of pronunciation, emphasis, or expression.
  • n. Words, or tones and modulations of the voice, expressive of some emotion or passion: as, the accents of prayer; the accent of reproof.
  • n. plural Words, language, or expressions in general.
  • n. In eccles. chanting, one of the seven forms of modulation used in parts sung by the officiating priest or his assistants, viz., the immutable, medium, grave, acute, moderate, interrogative, final. In music: A stress or emphasis given to certain notes or parts of bars in a composition.
  • n. A mark placed after the letter representing a note to indicate the octave in which it is found.
  • n. In mathematics and mech.: In all literal notation, a mark like an acute accent placed after a letter in order that it may, without confusion, be used to represent different quantities.
  • n. In geometry and trigonometry, a mark at the right hand of a number indicating minutes of a degree, two such marks indicating seconds: as, 20° 10′ 30″ = 20 degrees, 10 minutes, 30 seconds. In mensuration and engineering, a mark at the right hand of a number used to denote feet, inches, and lines; thus, 3′ 6″ 7‴ = 3 feet, 6 inches, 7 lines. In plans and drawings, a mark similarly used after repeated letters or figures, to indicate related or corresponding parts, and read as in algebra. See above, .
  • n.
  • n. In decorative, art, an added relieving or contrastive touch or tint: as, deep blue or crimson, with accents of gold.
  • n. The special stress or emphasis laid on a particular word in a sentence: as, for example, on ‘us’ in the line, “Better for us, perhaps, it might appear”
  • n. A character, usually (′ ), used to mark such an accented syllable.
  • n. A character, usually (″), used to mark such an accent. The term often includes minor accents of the third (tertiary) or weaker grades, as in in″′ con″ tro-ver'ti-ble, hy″percat″′ a-lec'tic, in″″com″ pre-hen″′ si-bil'i-ty, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the relative prominence of a syllable or musical note (especially with regard to stress or pitch)
  • v. to stress, single out as important
  • n. special importance or significance
  • n. the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people
  • n. distinctive manner of oral expression
  • v. put stress on; utter with an accent
  • n. a diacritical mark used to indicate stress or placed above a vowel to indicate a special pronunciation

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin accentus, accentuation : ad-, ad- + cantus, song (from canere, to sing; see kan- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in the late 14th century. (The "decorative" sense is first attested in 1972.) From Middle French accent, from Old French acent, from Latin accentus, formed from ad + cantus ("song") with a vowel change. (Wiktionary)
First attested in the 1520s, from French accenter, from Old French acenter. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "In eccles. chanting, one of the seven forms of modulation used in parts sung by the officiating priest or his assistants, viz., the immutable, medium, grave, acute, moderate, interrogative, final. In music: A stress or emphasis given to certain notes or parts of bars in a composition. It is divided into two kinds, grammatical and rhetorical or esthetic. The first is perfectly regular in its occurrence, always falling on the first part of a bar; the esthetic accent is irregular, and depends on taste and feeling."

    -- CD&C

    February 13, 2013

  • Conversation about Brit vs. American accents, or at least about Hugh Laurie on "House," can be found on marsupial (of all places).

    July 16, 2009

  • This is excellent! Thanks, Bilby!

    July 6, 2009

  • Library of accents.

    July 6, 2009