from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Jarring, discordant sound; dissonance.
  • noun The use of harsh or discordant sounds in literary composition, as for poetic effect.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun In pathology, a depraved voice; an altered state of the voice.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Rhet.) An uncouth or disagreeable sound of words, owing to the concurrence of harsh letters or syllables.
  • noun (Mus.) A combination of discordant sounds.
  • noun (Med.) An unhealthy state of the voice.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A mix of discordant sounds; dissonance.

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

  • noun a loud harsh or strident noise
  • noun loud confusing disagreeable sounds


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

[French cacophonie, from Greek kakophōniā, from kakophōnos, cacophonous; see cacophonous.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French cacophonie, from Ancient Greek κακοφωνία (kakophonia), from κακός (kakos, "bad") + φωνή (phonē, "voice").


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  • a rather beautiful sounding word, I think

    December 2, 2006

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

    December 10, 2006

  • counterfeit caca

    April 28, 2008

  • Cacophony sounds like shit.

    May 28, 2008

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

    August 13, 2008

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

    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

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

    November 15, 2008