use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

To look up an entry in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, use the search window above. For best results, after typing in the word, click on the “Search” button instead of using the “enter” key.

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you type them in the search bar. For best results with compound words, place a quotation mark before the compound word in the search window.

guide to the dictionary

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. Annual surveys have gauged the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY BLOG

The articles in our blog examine new words, revised definitions, interesting images from the fifth edition, discussions of usage, and more.

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

ac·cent (ăksĕnt)
Share:
n.
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 habits of the speaker's native language carried over to his or her 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.
10.
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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.