Definition for AC'CENT

AC'CENT, n. [L. accentus, from ad and cano, cantum, to sing; W. canu; Corn. kana; Ir. canaim. See Accend.]

  1. The modulation of the voice in reading or speaking, as practiced by the ancient Greeks, which rendered their rehearsal musical. More strictly, in English,
  2. A particular stress or force of voice upon certain syllables of words, which distinguishes them from the others. Accent is of two kinds, primary and secondary; as in às pi rá tion. In uttering this word, we observe the first and third syllables are distinguished; the third by a full sound, which constitutes the primary accent; the first, by a degree of force in the voice which is less than that of the primary accent, but evidently greater than that which falls on the second and fourth syllables. When the full accent falls on a vowel, that vowel has its long sound, as in vo´cal; but when it falls on an articulation or consonant, the preceding vowel is short, as in hab´it. Accent alone regulates English verse.
  3. A mark or character used in writing to direct the stress of the voice in pronunciation. Our ancestors borrowed from the Greek language three of these characters, the acute [´], the grave [`], and the circumflex [~, or ˆ]. In the Greek, the first shown when the voice is to be raised; the second, when it is to be depressed; and the third, when the vowel is to be uttered with an undulating sound.
  4. A modulation of the voice expressive of passions or sentiments. The tender accents of a woman's cry. – Prior.
  5. Manner of speaking. A man of plain accent. [Obs.] – Shak.
  6. Poetically, words, language, or expressions in general. Words on your wings, to haven her accents bear, / Such words as heaven alone is it to hear. – Dryden.
  7. In music, a swelling of sounds, for the purpose of variety or expression. The principal accent falls on the first note in the bar, but the third place in common time requires also an accent,
  8. A peculiar tone or inflection of voice.

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