1. also dis·cant (dĭs-) Music
a. An ornamental melody or counterpoint sung or played above a theme.
b. The highest part sung in part music.
2. A discussion or discourse on a theme.
intr.v. (dĕskănt′, dĕ-skănt) des·cant·ed, des·cant·ing, des·cants
1. To comment at length; discourse: "He used to descant critically on the dishes which had been at table" (James Boswell).
2. also dis·cant (dĭskănt′, dĭ-skănt) Music
a. To sing or play a descant.
b. To sing melodiously.
[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman descaunt, from Medieval Latin discantus, a refrain : Latin dis-, dis- + Latin cantus, song (from past participle of 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:
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.