Definitions

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

  • n. Jarring, discordant sound; dissonance: heard a cacophony of horns during the traffic jam.
  • n. The use of harsh or discordant sounds in literary composition, as for poetic effect.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mix of discordant sounds; dissonance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An uncouth or disagreeable sound of words, owing to the concurrence of harsh letters or syllables.
  • n. A combination of discordant sounds.
  • n. An unhealthy state of the voice.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A combination of discordant sounds; specifically, in rhetoric, a faulty choice or arrangement of words, producing inharmonious or discordant combinations of sounds, or too great frequency of such combinations as are for any reason unpleasant to the ear; also, the uncouth or disagreeable sound so produced: the opposite of euphony.
  • n. In pathology, a depraved voice; an altered state of the voice.

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

  • n. a loud harsh or strident noise
  • n. loud confusing disagreeable sounds

Etymologies

French cacophonie, from Greek kakophōniā, from kakophōnos, cacophonous; see cacophonous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French cacophonie, from Ancient Greek κακοφωνία (kakophonia), from κακός (kakos, "bad") + φωνή (phonē, "voice"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • On one side was Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur, railing against what he called the cacophony of Web 2.0 and the calamitous effects of user-generated content on our culture.

    The great digital seduction

  • Adding to the cacophony is the remodeling of the upstairs apartment.

    A Saturday In Uzbekistan

  • Lost in cacophony of the horse-race press coverage are the policies that the Republicans are pushing.

    Joseph A. Palermo: Civic-Minded Plutocrats

  • Tracking sports 'online cacophony is tricky enough when just focusing on league websites.

    NBC's Michaels making Olympic Games comeback

  • Their cacophony is making the biggest mark of the information age.

    We are all the media

  • Walk but a few yards, and the cacophony is swallowed by a silence profound and sombre.

    Waiting for Spring « A Fly in Amber

  • Note: I employed the word cacophony in yesterday's entry before reading the newspaper.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • I suppose those taking siestas nearby were going nuts but one man's cacophony is another's Beethoven.

    Noise

  • It's not easy telling our story in a place where the cacophony is deafening and the competition stiff -- where everyone has a story to tell and the Americans tend to find their own story most interesting.

    A Perspective for Canadians: the Current State and Future Directions for Canada-U.S. Relations

  • I believe that the 1800 Obi was similarly monumental, graphic, and insistent to its audience in cathecting all racial conflict and arguments over slavery ultimately onto the severed head of Jack (its Medusa) and, though his sacrificial destruction, seeming to eradicate this teeming cacophony from the Empire with deliberate force, supposedly to the benefit of slaves and masters alike.

    Directing Obi in the Year 2000

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I particularly enjoy the adjectival form, 'cacophonous!' But kind of hard to use without sounding like a word snob...

    November 15, 2008

  • Despite a promising level of unruliness, cacophony's audition lacked enough - how was it written in the margin notes ... malignancy? - to secure a contract as a My Little Phony.

    October 27, 2008

  • I'd pronounce it ka-KO-fo-nee, with first syllable to rhyme with "cack" and a stress on the second syllable, which rhymes with "coffer".

    Great word!

    October 27, 2008

  • Is it pronounced KAH-CO-PHO-NEE or is it prounounced some other way?

    October 27, 2008

  • From the Greek kakos (bad) and phonē (sound)

    August 13, 2008

  • Cacophony sounds like shit.

    May 28, 2008

  • counterfeit caca

    April 28, 2008

  • I actually think it's a great word because it sounds like what it is-a particularly complex onomatopeia.

    December 10, 2006

  • a rather beautiful sounding word, I think

    December 2, 2006