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[dis-uh-nuh nt] /ˈdɪs ə nənt/
disagreeing or harsh in sound; discordant.
out of harmony; incongruous; at variance.
Music. characterized by dissonance.
Origin of dissonant
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English dissonaunte (< Anglo-French) < Latin dissonant- (stem of dissonāns, present participle of dissonāre to sound harsh), equivalent to disson- (derivative of dissonus discordant; see dis-1, sound1) + -ant- -ant
Related forms
dissonantly, adverb
undissonant, adjective
undissonantly, adverb
2. incompatible, incongruent, inconsistent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dissonant
  • Reading about a dissonant chord doesn't make it sound any sweeter, but repeated hearing certainly does.
  • The dissonant chords and primitive rhythms had a still more unnerving effect upon the audience.
  • Upending such a value set is too cognitively dissonant for many on both sides of the equation.
  • He created a tune that was so dissonant it could not be made into a record.
  • Much of the music is chromatic, mildly dissonant and strikingly lacking in aggression.
  • In reality, they were indulging in selective ignorance, as they explained away dissonant facts and contradictory data.
  • Saying it is chromatic or dissonant doesn't give a full sense of it.
  • We must open our discourse to dissonant voices, both to combat prejudice and to enrich our lives.
  • But consider how dissonant the first part is: open source and cellphone.
  • As jolting and dissonant as the songs were, they were also carefully shaped.
British Dictionary definitions for dissonant


discordant; cacophonous
incongruous or discrepant
(music) characterized by dissonance
Derived Forms
dissonantly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin dissonāre to be discordant, from dis-1 + sonāre to sound
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 dissonant

early 15c., from Middle French dissonant and directly from Latin dissonantem (nominative dissonans), present participle of dissonare "differ in sound," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + sonare "to sound" (see sonata).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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