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[dis-uh-nuh ns] /ˈdɪs ə nəns/
inharmonious or harsh sound; discord; cacophony.
  1. a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion.
  2. an unresolved, discordant chord or interval.
    Compare consonance (def 3).
disagreement or incongruity.
Origin of dissonance
1565-75; < Late Latin dissonantia, equivalent to disson- (see dissonant) + -antia -ance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dissonance
  • The results are almost poetic in their emotional dissonance.
  • The food industry has made its fortune on this kind of cognitive dissonance.
  • Blowing all at once created chords of delightful dissonance.
  • Too much dissonance between our world views, perhaps.
  • Articulate words are a harsh clamor and dissonance.
  • The government has on occasion found the dissonance disconcerting.
  • This clash of sounds stuns one's ears with its rending dissonance.
  • There seems to me to be a high level of cognitive dissonance going on.
  • They started to find semitones, the “notes between notes” that provide a pleasant dissonance and give any tune a somber air.
  • It is basically tonal, but has spiky bursts of dissonance.
British Dictionary definitions for dissonance


a discordant combination of sounds
lack of agreement or consistency
  1. a sensation commonly associated with all intervals of the second and seventh, all diminished and augmented intervals, and all chords based on these intervals Compare consonance (sense 3)
  2. an interval or chord of this kind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dissonance

early 15c., "disagreement," from Middle French dissonance and directly from Late Latin dissonantia, from Latin dissonantem (see dissonant). Figurative use dates from 1875.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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