Definition of accent in English:



  • 1A distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class.

    ‘a strong American accent’
    ‘she never mastered the French accent’
    • ‘It is believed he was British but the suspect spoke in a Patois accent, the accent of Caribbean street language.’
    • ‘The melange of languages and accents was as varied as the faces.’
    • ‘The whole country was a mixture of different languages and accents back then, especially in the rural areas.’
    • ‘Mass-media broadcasters spoke in the accents of the upper classes.’
    • ‘With some exceptions, strong regional or Spanish accents are associated with working-class status.’
    • ‘The conversation veered towards language and accents.’
    • ‘Fraudsters may have ‘upper class' accents and a Mayfair address but the lines are the same.’
    • ‘The annual meeting of China's legislature is a jamboree of regional accents and languages.’
    • ‘But the five Americans also manage highly creditable regional or class accents.’
    • ‘Type in whatever you want into the text box, and it'll read it out in an eerily realistic human voice. You can even pick male or female voices and a few different languages or accents.’
    • ‘And a beautiful thing, for me, was that most spoke with foreign accents and in foreign languages.’
    • ‘After reading, judges check on their pronunciation, accent, posture and eye contact.’
    • ‘And is there anywhere in the world with a greater diversity of accents than London?’
    • ‘Primarily, however, I notice the sheer multiplicity of accents, languages and ethnic types jostling for space in those sweaty Tube carriages.’
    • ‘When actors baulked at speaking lines in a foreign language - or their accents were execrable - native-speakers were brought in to play the parts.’
    • ‘As for the impact of popular culture, Kay says that the evidence isn't so much that TV levels out language, but that strong regional accents from all over Britain seem to be thriving.’
    • ‘‘Some people with working class or regional accents are not getting the chances they deserve and that is a waste,’ she says.’
    • ‘I heard my dad struggle with the pronunciation, trying to add on an Italian accent along with the words and couldn't hold back a giggle.’
    • ‘Yet, although we share the same language, English accents still confuse the locals.’
    • ‘All TV announcers had unbelievable upper class accents.’
    pronunciation, intonation, enunciation, elocution, articulation, inflection, tone, modulation, cadence, timbre, utterance, manner of speaking, speech pattern, speech, diction, delivery
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  • 2A distinct emphasis given to a syllable or word in speech by stress or pitch.

    ‘the accent falls on the middle syllable’
    • ‘Furthermore, the narrator speaks with the words, accents, and intonations of Golyadkin himself.’
    • ‘Falimako is pronounced FA-li-ma-ko with the accent on the FA.’
    • ‘TO-mah-to, they called them in Calcutta, with the accent on the first syllable, making no distinction between singular or plural.’
    • ‘Also, the accent should be on the second syllable: a-SAH-a-na.’
    • ‘In all but parts of eastern Slovakia, the stress is on the first syllable of a word; longer words (three or more syllables) have secondary accents.’
    • ‘Mania, they were told, is simply the Italian translation of the word obsession, and anyway it's pronounced with the accent on the second syllable.’
    • ‘In Samoan words all syllables are given equal timing with a slight accent placed on the penultimate syllable.’
    • ‘These aren't imported words with genuine umlauts, but retrospective accents denoting a junked hyphen as in microorganisms or coordinated.’
    • ‘And when the British crossed the Atlantic and the accent shifted from a to e, all the vowels shifted along one position, e i o u a.’
    stress, emphasis, accentuation, force, prominence
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    1. 2.1A mark on a letter, typically a vowel, to indicate pitch, stress, or vowel quality.
      ‘a circumflex accent’
      • ‘I don't think I grasped much of the concept of where to place accents in the Spanish language, but oh well.’
      • ‘Modern Greek also retains from the ancient language a system of three pitch accents (acute, circumflex, grave).’
      • ‘After all, people who write in these languages on a computer want to use the correct accent marks.’
      • ‘It's a neat trick to have a way to spell words containing both nasalization and crucially important tone without any accents or funny letters.’
      • ‘The Soviet Russia template has an interesting linguistic aspect: the paired contrastive accents that indicate role reversal.’
      • ‘Little accents, little umlauts, tiny apostrophes like snowflakes sting her cheeks.’
      • ‘Why do the normal keyboard letter combinations for eg French accents not work in comments boxes?’
      • ‘The accents and other diacritical marks we now use to write ancient Greek are comparatively late inventions.’
      • ‘The spelling is fundamentally phonetic and the stress falls on the next to last syllable unless indicted by an accent mark.’
      • ‘Elegant accent marks can make any typical product name sound like a shimmering diamond mined from the fertile bowls of the finest dragon filled cave.’
      • ‘FYI - I had to leave out some of the accent marks on some of the Spanish words.’
      mark, diacritic, diacritical mark, accent mark, sign
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    2. 2.2Music An emphasis on a particular note or chord.
      ‘short fortissimo accents’
      • ‘Rachmaninoff indicates that the tenor carries the melody by placing accents over each of its notes.’
      • ‘He might land his hardest accent in the middle of a triplet of notes, or rustle the snare and tom-tom drums with his sticks the way others brush the ride and high-hat cymbals.’
      • ‘Sir John Barbirolli in rehearsal with the Hallé Orchestra, with subtly weighted accents on the first beat of each note group in the strings, is not to be ignored.’
      • ‘The weight came from accents and the interpretation's fire, not from thick orchestral playing or slow tempos.’
      • ‘Syncopated staccato accents gradually drop into place on top of an extended droning chord.’
      • ‘Tempos tend to be driving, and accents tend to be emphatic, strengthening the similarities between Schumann and Beethoven.’
      • ‘The rich tone and strong accents of Gabriel Beavers's solo bassoon were striking.’
      • ‘The composer's intentions may be notated as dots, dashes, accents, and slurs.’
      • ‘The meter, complexity of rhythms created by dotted rhythms, triplets and irregular accents manifest the spirit of Korean peasant dance and music.’
      • ‘The displacement of the normal musical accent from a strong beat to a weak one.’
      • ‘Some of these have involved minutely detailed descriptions of snare drum accents and eight-to-the-bar boogie-woogie rhythms.’
      • ‘Moravec takes the opening of the first in a way that connects with Bartók's piano dances, with shifting accents.’
      • ‘Or consider the college piano student, carefully groomed to taper each Mozartean phrase just so, and deliver sharp accents in Bartok.’
      • ‘In the second to last bar of ‘Purgatorio’, Mahler wrote a chord B E-G plus an accent.’
      • ‘There are sharp pizzicato accents everywhere, and once again, leave it to David Finckel to look like he is having the time of his life.’
      • ‘By contrast, the three-beat group is subdivided as a hemiola with accents falling on beat 1 and the second half of beat 2.’
      • ‘Similarly the trumpet/xylophone guy did some well-placed accents throughout, weaving his notes into the fabric of the music.’
      • ‘As in the accented baseline condition, the two kinds of accents emphasized the same tones.’
      • ‘Riemann published editions of standard keyboard works in which agogic accents were marked with the sign ^.’
      • ‘The use of unpredictable accents also can add to the rhythmic complexity of a musical work.’
  • 3[in singular] A special or particular emphasis.

    ‘the accent is on participation’
    • ‘Computer dealers are finding that even machines that were considered ‘high end’ are being snapped up for use at home with the accent on value for money.’
    • ‘There was a mismatch between theory and understanding, when the accent should have been on continuous learning.’
    • ‘Moreover, they put the accent on the spiritual values connected with youth, rather than on age.’
    • ‘The accent therefore had to fall on external action by the state, but of itself this did not require immediate and exact foreign policy choices.’
    • ‘Instead, the accent is on improving business attitudes, leaving consumers with the impression that once again profit is being put before safety.’
    • ‘This idea was imposed by Western nations' heavy accent on democracy as the almighty and foremost value.’
    • ‘The main accent falls on the significance of Christ's action, and the explication of sin through the figure of Adam serves to clarify this significance.’
    • ‘Small schools have sprung up all over the country, laying accent on the quality of the relationship between teacher and student.’
    • ‘Last week I lamented the lack of tries in our now defence-dominated game, what with the accent on specialist prevention coaching.’
    • ‘The accent of the speech however, fell on the steps being taken by the government to reverse these social ills.’
    • ‘The accent is on creating a simulated environment for the customer to feel at home.’
    • ‘The accent is on natural materials - wood and stone.’
    • ‘The accent is on comfort rather than sportiness and its no coincidence that it looks like an S-Class that shrunk in the wash.’
    • ‘For the moment, though, the accent is on celebration.’
    • ‘The toys appear to be high-quality, and the accent is on educational products.’
    • ‘The accent is on winning and making money, not developing New Zealand talent.’
    • ‘The accent is on making learning an enjoyable experience. ‘Look, understand, absorb and learn’ is the new mantra.’
    • ‘Again, this was simple food with the accent upon quality ingredients and a desire to avoid over-elaboration.’
    • ‘The accent was on humour and song, and a patriotic theme was introduced for Coronation year.’
    • ‘Though there are sections on Welsh and Greek, the accent is on French, German, Spanish and Italian, each of which has a 24-lesson course attached.’
    emphasis, stress, priority
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    1. 3.1A feature which gives a distinctive visual emphasis to something.
      ‘blue woodwork and accents of red’
      • ‘Bright red is a bold accent in clusters of anemones and candy canes.’
      • ‘In the typical mix of femininity and sporty styling, such accents emphasize a modern femininity.’
      • ‘After a tour of five hotels in Lakes towns from Keswick to Coniston his recommendation is to inject a regional accent into the decor to get more guests to the check-in desks.’
      • ‘She refused to meet his gaze, eyes resting instead on the gold accent of his navy blue coat, or the thick leather belt still decorating his broad chest.’
      • ‘A few plum accents can bring in a note of elegance to any room; try a throw pillow or two, or a plum lampshade with a fringe?’
      • ‘If you're using chives as a visual accent, just sprinkle a few over whatever you're accenting.’
      • ‘Ottomans can carry an accent colour, or add texture and thereby lift the look of a room.’
      • ‘It is all about layering the textures and then maybe adding an accent colour to spice it up a bit.’
      • ‘A key ingredient in almost every successful colour scheme is the inclusion of just two main colours and an accent colour, so be disciplined in your choices.’


  • 1 Emphasize (a particular feature)

    ‘fabrics which accent the background colours in the room’
    • ‘So my thought was to replace the flower over-abundance with a solid blue color to accent the nice yellow, by whatever means was the easiest and best way to accomplish this task.’
    • ‘You can accent a room's feature - such as a pipe or post - by painting it a different color from the rest of the room or de-emphasize it by painting it the same color.’
    • ‘Following lunch the shimmering afternoon sun warmed the shoulders, and accented the floral colours of the pleasure garden and the verdant fruitfulness of the walled organic garden.’
    • ‘The mystique surrounding Cirque du Soleil is accented by the wonderment the show evokes from the audience.’
    • ‘We all look to you to accent the positives and help us to eradicate the more negative events, and mostly you do achieve this.’
    • ‘Dark hair and even darker eyes accented his pale features and an amused smile touched his thin lips.’
    • ‘It seemed to be just Helen's size, and the color perfectly accented her light brown hair.’
    • ‘She shrugged off her wet robe and pulled on a new one that seemed to accent her dark features even more.’
    • ‘He had a certain smug look as the setting sun accented his facial features and bathed the luxurious office in shades of red and gold light.’
    • ‘She was dressed in a red gown, with a tight bodice that accented her womanly features.’
    • ‘Make art the focal point of your living room by accenting it with halogen spotlights.’
    • ‘Brown curls that framed his fragile features and accented his crystalline red-hazel eyes.’
    • ‘His pale features were accented by his ebony hair.’
    • ‘In both cases, cobalt blue was used to accent certain elements including the bells, the man's shoes, shirt, and hat, and the cantons of the flags.’
    • ‘The different vibrant and funky colours and ‘intelligent’ lighting perfectly accent the curtain wall and a high ceiling.’
    • ‘She had Egyptian features, which were accented by the mascara she was wearing and her honey-colored eyes.’
    • ‘His angular features were accented by a short bristly goatee, and a single black curl fell on his forehead.’
    • ‘A tent sized mu-mu - hot orange and pink, accenting the contours of her big, round belly.’
    • ‘In consequence they strove to accent the competitive element and eliminate any attempt at showboating at every opportunity.’
    • ‘Victoria blushed, causing Eagan to smile for a moment; she looked as cute as always, a blush so easily brought to her cheeks accenting her color.’
    focus attention on, bring attention to, call attention to, draw attention to, point up, underline, underscore, accentuate, highlight, spotlight, foreground, feature, give prominence to, make more prominent, make more noticeable, play up, bring to the fore, heighten, stress, emphasize, lay emphasis on, put emphasis on
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    1. 1.1Music Play (a note or beat) with emphasis.
      ‘the quick tempo means there is less scope for accenting offbeat notes’
      • ‘Double-time blast beats are accented by equally furious ‘breakdowns’ and searing vocals, but it's all done without coming across like it was as butchered as their song subjects.’
      • ‘‘Tsuginepu to ittemita’ is a good example of this, a tone poem for a female voice and tabla, the tabla accenting every syllable, accompanied by a gently chiming Japanese melody.’
      • ‘The strings are used only to accent the melody, and any misgivings are quickly redeemed by yet another amazing guitar solo.’
      • ‘Axis and Alignment is a jazz tapestry accented by intricate minimalist patterns and incredibly fluid changes, a perpetually shifting sonic picture of gentle enlightenment.’
      • ‘Ungerleider's sparse guitar style was accented with long bass solos.’
      • ‘Their drummer seemed to be half asleep because he missed a dozen beats key beats that were supposed to accent the vocals.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘intonation’): from Latin accentus tone, signal, or intensity (from ad- to + cantus song), translating Greek prosōidia a song sung to music, intonation.