Definitions

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

  • adj. Harsh and inharmonious in sound; discordant.
  • adj. Being at variance; disagreeing.
  • adj. Music Constituting or producing a dissonance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to dissonance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Sounding harshly; discordant; unharmonious.
  • adj. Disagreeing; incongruous; discrepant, -- with from or to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Discordant in sound; harsh; jarring; inharmonious; unpleasant to the ear: as, dissonant tones or intervals.
  • Discordant in general; disagreeing; incongruous.

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

  • adj. not in accord
  • adj. lacking in harmony
  • adj. characterized by musical dissonance; harmonically unresolved

Etymologies

Middle English dissonaunt, from Old French dissonant, from Latin dissonāns, dissonant-, present participle of dissonāre, to be dissonant : dis-, apart; see dis- + sonāre, to sound; see swen- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Not doing well results in dissonant silence or an intentionally dissonant interruption.

    Music Sweet Music

  • This is a fairly transparent way of rejecting experimental music -- just as many others reject experimental fiction or poetry because it's also "dissonant" -- and Pitt does a good job of diagnosing its flaws.

    Music

  • Thus, any music that doesn't manifest a recognizable emotion (by implication at least, all of "dissonant" modernist music) couldn't be music.

    Music

  • Pelham made demands to use a kind of dissonant but yet confluent music that I wanted to write in my ear by itself but not lead me to it, so by employing those techniques, the problem got solved and I'm very proud of it.

    Cinematical

  • It's asinine that The New York Times describes Esther as "dissonant," negatively, as if in sympathy with those critizing the decision to stage the work.

    Unnatural Acts of Opera

  • It will probably be a dissonant chord to help you see that it is the cacophony, the crack between the major expectations, where the light of n|om jazz shines its ray.

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God

  • That of being a voice out of the choir, a dissonant voice playing a false note in the dominant discourse recited by the ruling power.

    Aldo Civico: The King is Naked! In defense of Michele Santoro.

  • The eulogies, of course, were given against a surreal backdrop painted with dissonant colors, the darkness of our grief contrasting wildly with the vivid and bright hues that defined Jeff's life and personality.

    Andrew S. Doctoroff: The Last Lecture Given by Our Good Friend Jeff Zaslow

  • An appoggiatura is a type of ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound.

    Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker

  • Jazz fans may have interpreted the remark to mean that he was returning to the lush orchestrations of his "Africa Brass" large-ensemble work, rather than forging ahead into far more dissonant territory.

    Playing the Unplayable Album

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