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Meaning of accent

ac•cent

Pronunciation: (n.ak'sentv.ak'sent, ak&sylpsent'), [key]
— n.
  1. prominence of a syllable in terms of differential loudness, or of pitch, or length, or of a combination of these.
  2. degree of prominence of a syllable within a word and sometimes of a word within a phrase: primary accent; secondary accent.
  3. a mark indicating stress (as &prim;, &sec;, or &IPAprim;, &IPAsec;, or ′, ″), vowel quality (as French graveacutecircumflex), form (as French la “the” versus là “there”), or pitch.
  4. any similar mark.
    1. regularly recurring stress.
    2. a mark indicating stress or some other distinction in pronunciation or value.
  5. a musical tone or pattern of pitch inherent in a particular language either as a feature essential to the identification of a vowel or a syllable or to the general acoustic character of the language. Cf. tone (def. 7).
  6. Often, We recognized his accents immediately. She corrected me in her usual mild accents.
    1. the unique speech patterns, inflections, choice of words, etc., that identify a particular individual:We recognized his accents immediately. She corrected me in her usual mild accents.
    2. the distinctive style or tone characteristic of an author, composer, etc.:the unmistakably Brahmsian accents of the sonata; She recognized the familiar accents of Robert Frost in the poem.
  7. a mode of pronunciation, as pitch or tone, emphasis pattern, or intonation, characteristic of or peculiar to the speech of a particular person, group, or locality:Cf. tone (def. 5). French accent; Southern accent.
  8. such a mode of pronunciation recognized as being of foreign origin: He still speaks with an accent.
    1. a stress or emphasis given to certain notes.
    2. a mark noting this.
    3. stress or emphasis regularly recurring as a feature of rhythm.
    1. a symbol used to distinguish similar quantities that differ in value, as in b′, b″, b‴ (called b prime, b second or b double prime, b third or b triple prime, respectively).
    2. a symbol used to indicate a particular unit of measure, as feet (′) or inches (″), minutes (′) or seconds (″).
    3. a symbol used to indicate the order of a derivative of a function in calculus, as f′ (called f prime) is the first derivative of a function f.
  9. words or tones expressive of some emotion.
  10. words; language; speech: He spoke in accents bold.
  11. distinctive character or tone: an accent of whining complaint.
  12. special attention, stress, or emphasis: an accent on accuracy.
  13. a detail that is emphasized by contrasting with its surroundings: a room decorated in navy blue with two red vases as accents.
  14. a distinctive but subordinate pattern, motif, color, flavor, or the like: The salad dressing had an accent of garlic.
—v.t.
  1. to pronounce with prominence (a syllable within a word or a word within a phrase): to accent the first syllable of “into”; to accent the first word of “White House.”
  2. to mark with a written accent or accents.
  3. to give emphasis or prominence to; accentuate.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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