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Selected languages and accents of the british isles2 rjl.jpg


Middle French accenter, from accent intonation, from Latin accentus, from ad- + cantus song — more at chant


  • 1: an articulative effort giving prominence to one syllable over adjacent syllables; also : the prominence thus given a syllable
  • 2: a distinctive manner of expression: as a : an individual's distinctive or characteristic inflection, tone, or choice of words —usually used in plural
b : a way of speaking typical of a particular group of people and especially of the natives or residents of a region
  • 3: rhythmically significant stress on the syllables of a verse usually at regular intervals
  • 4: archaic : utterance
  • 5a : a mark (as ´, `, ˆ) used in writing or printing to indicate a specific sound value, stress, or pitch, to distinguish words otherwise identically spelled, or to indicate that an ordinarily mute vowel should be pronounced
b : an accented letter
  • 6a : greater stress given to one musical tone than to its neighbors
b : accent mark
b : an emphasized detail or area; especially : a small detail in sharp contrast with its surroundings
c : a substance or object used for emphasis
  • 8: a mark placed to the right of a letter or number and usually slightly above it: as a : a double prime
b : prime


In linguistics, an accent is a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation. An accent may identify the locality in which its speakers reside (a geographical or regional accent), the socio-economic status of its speakers, their ethnicity, their caste or social class, their first language (when the language in which the accent is heard is not their native language), and so on. Accents typically differ in quality of voice, pronunciation of vowels and consonants, stress, and prosody. Although grammar, semantics, vocabulary, and other language characteristics often vary concurrently with accent, the word 'accent' refers specifically to the differences in pronunciation, whereas the word 'dialect' encompasses the broader set of linguistic differences. Often 'accent' is a subset of 'dialect'.