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ac·cent (ăksĕnt)
1. The relative prominence of a particular syllable of a word by greater intensity or by variation or modulation of pitch or tone.
2. Vocal prominence or emphasis given to a particular syllable, word, or phrase.
3. A characteristic pronunciation, especially:
a. One determined by the regional or social background of the speaker.
b. One determined by the phonetic characteristics of the speaker's native language carried over to that speaker's use of another language.
4. A mark or symbol used in the printing and writing of certain languages to indicate the vocal quality to be given to a particular letter: an acute accent.
5. A mark or symbol used in printing and writing to indicate the stressed syllables of a spoken word.
6. Rhythmically significant stress in a line of verse.
7. Music
a. Emphasis or prominence given to a note or chord, as by an increase in volume or extended duration.
b. A mark representing this.
8. Mathematics
a. A mark used as a superscript to distinguish among variables represented by the same symbol.
b. A mark used as a superscript to indicate the first derivative of a variable.
9. A mark or one of several marks used as a superscript to indicate a unit, such as feet () and inches (") in linear measurement.
a. A distinctive feature or quality, such as a feature that accentuates, contrasts with, or complements a decorative style.
b. Something that accentuates or contrasts something else, as a touch of color that makes the features of an image stand out.
11. Particular importance or interest; emphasis: The accent is on comfort. See Synonyms at emphasis.
tr.v. (ăksĕnt, ăk-sĕnt) ac·cent·ed, ac·cent·ing, ac·cents
1. To stress or emphasize the pronunciation of: accented the first syllable in “debacle.”
2. To mark with a printed accent.
3. To focus attention on; accentuate: a program that accents leadership development.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin accentus, accentuation : ad-, ad- + cantus, song (from canere, to sing; see kan- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.