Definition of syncopate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1usually as adjective syncopatedDisplace the beats or accents in (music or a rhythm) so that strong beats become weak and vice versa.

    ‘syncopated dance music’
    • ‘Like jazz, rap extravagantly syncopates a flexible rhythm against a fixed metrical beat thereby turning a traditional English folk meter into something distinctively African-American.’
    • ‘He played trills, used differently syncopated rhythms, and at times even played little snippets of the accompanying rhythm; yet Silvia was perfectly able to pick the main melody out of the solo.’
    • ‘There is a high reliance on speed, and editing syncopated to the rhythms of a fast music-track, regardless of context.’
    • ‘But it was Gillespie who formed the early bands, organized the tours and schooled young acolytes in the odd, syncopated rhythms and lightning-fast runs that were trademarks of the new style.’
    • ‘The second movement is a thin-textured scherzo nervily syncopated in an urban context, with no hint of an agrarian landscape.’
    • ‘It's pure Guinean syncopated rhythm and choral chanting, with lots of bells, horns, cymbals and traditional African instruments.’
    • ‘The four-minute coda, however, allows the electronic percussion to take the lead, as beats grow progressively syncopated and the rest of the music drops out save an occasional vocal sample.’
    • ‘Quick techno rhythm is syncopated with pauses in the forward-moving action brought on by Lola's superhuman screams or by the death of a protagonist.’
    • ‘The singing was amplified, the rhythms syncopated and the plot one-dimensional.’
    • ‘Using syncopated and heavy beats as his canvas, Heron slices his samples until the source is utterly indistinguishable.’
    • ‘Recruited in Harlem, Europe's band may not have been playing ‘jazz’ by any strict definition but its military music was apparently highly syncopated and left considerable room for improvisation.’
    • ‘Intensity and loudness increases by the middle of the movement, with some sharp attacks by the strings, with drums and syncopated rhythms.’
    • ‘This track combines artfully disjointed melodies with low-fi bass, syncopated rhythms, and all the atmosphere of a David Lynch soundtrack.’
    • ‘It has the benefit of a modern approach to cadence and syncopated rhythm, yet it feels more authentic and true to the material.’
    • ‘Young has a lively sense of gesture and motion; his painterly rhythms are rapid and syncopated, forming a dancing pattern.’
    • ‘Although the complex syncopated rhythms of duets can sound to the untrained ear as if they are coming from one bird, they are the efforts of two wrens perched side by side and interposing their notes with precise timing.’
    • ‘On ‘La basilique Fantome’ he syncopates his music with the rhythm of a hand saw.’
    • ‘The finale is a fizzing, syncopated Rondo, with exciting textures.’
    • ‘On ‘Galaxy,’ his mediocre lyrics persist, but the careful melodies and highly syncopated rhythms forgive any misdeeds.’
    • ‘A stream of people attest to the fact that it was Bolden's cornet that blasted out over those syncopated beats back in the 1900s that first defined jazz.’
  • 2Shorten (a word) by dropping sounds or letters in the middle, as in symbology for symbolology, or Gloster for Gloucester.

    • ‘If the adjective contains a long vowel or diphthong, the final /x/ is syncopated when /a/ is added and a diaeresis is applied.’
    • ‘Nouns ending in d or g containing a long vowel or diphthong where that consonant is syncopated in the plural, preserve it in the diminutive.’


Early 17th century: from late Latin syncopat- ‘affected with syncope’, from the verb syncopare ‘to swoon’ (see syncope).