AskDefine | Define cacophony

Dictionary Definition

cacophony

Noun

1 a loud harsh or strident noise [syn: blare, blaring, clamor, din]
2 loud confusing disagreeable sounds

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From cacophonie, from sc=Grek, from sc=Grek + sc=Grek.

Pronunciation

  • a UK /kəˈkɒfəni/

Noun

  1. A mix of discordant sounds; dissonance.
    • 1921-1922, H. P. Lovecraft, Herbert West: Reanimator,
      Not more unutterable could have been the chaos of hellish sound if the pit itself had opened to release the agony of the damned, for in one inconceivable cacophony was centered all the supernal terror and unnatural despair of animate nature.

Antonyms

Translations

mix of discordant sounds; dissonance
  • Finnish: kakofonia
  • French: cacophonie
  • German: Kakophonie, Kakofonie
  • Greek: κακοφωνία
  • Italian: cacofonia
  • Japanese: 不協和音 (ふきょうわおん)
  • Portuguese: cacofonia
  • Spanish: cacofonía

Extensive Definition

Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty (euphony) or unpleasantness (cacophony) of the sound of certain linguistic utterances. Poetry is often considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose. Important phonaesthetic devices of poetry are rhyme, assonance and alliteration. Closely related to euphony and cacophony is the concept of consonance and dissonance.
The phrase cellar door has some notoriety as the reputedly most euphonic sound combination of the English language (specifically, when spoken with a British accent).
From this meaning should be distinguished the closely related but different concept of phonaesthesia, which does not refer directly to aesthetic attributes of sound, but to phonetic elements that are inherently associated with a semantic meaning. The term was introduced by J. R. Firth in 1930 "The phonæsthetic habits [...] and are of general importance in speech." Firth defined a phonaestheme as "a phoneme or cluster of phonemes shared by a group of words which also have in common some element of meaning or function, though the words may be etymologically unrelated."

Sub-phonematic euphony

In most languages, difficult to pronounce phonetic combinations will be adapted to allow more flowing speech, for reasons of ease of pronunciation rather than aesthetics. These adaptations will be sub-phonematic at first, but over several generations will lead to phonematically relevant sound changes

References

  • Ross Smith, Inside Language - Linguistic and Aesthetic Theory in Tolkien, Walking Tree Publishers (2007), ISBN 978-3-905703-06-1.
cacophony in German: Euphonie
cacophony in Esperanto: Belsoneco
cacophony in French: Euphonie
cacophony in Dutch: Euphony
cacophony in Japanese: 音便
cacophony in Polish: Eufonia
cacophony in Portuguese: Eufonia
cacophony in Slovak: Eufónia

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Babel, Gothicism, agitation, atonalism, atonality, bad taste, barbarism, barbarousness, bedlam, bluster, bombasticness, brawl, broil, brouhaha, cacology, chaos, clinker, clumsiness, coarseness, commotion, confusion of tongues, cracked voice, crudeness, cumbrousness, defacement, discord, discordance, discordancy, disfigurement, disharmony, dissonance, dissonancy, dissonant chord, disturbance, dryness, dysphemism, ebullition, embroilment, fanaticism, ferment, flap, flatness, fomentation, foofaraw, frenzy, fume, furor, furore, fury, fuss, gracelessness, grossness, gruffness, gutturalism, gutturality, gutturalness, harshness, heaviness, hell, hoarseness, homeliness, hubbub, huskiness, ill-balanced sentences, ill-favoredness, impropriety, impurity, inconcinnity, incorrectness, indecorousness, inelegance, inelegancy, infelicity, inharmoniousness, inharmony, lack of finish, lack of polish, leadenness, noise, off note, pandemonium, passion, plainness, pompousness, ponderousness, poor diction, racket, rage, raspiness, raucity, roughness, row, ruckus, rudeness, rumpus, scrapiness, scratchiness, sesquipedalianism, sesquipedality, shapelessness, sharpness, slipshod construction, sour note, sourness, static, stertorousness, stiltedness, storminess, stridor, tastelessness, tempestuousness, thickness, throatiness, tumult, tumultuousness, tunelessness, turbulence, turgidity, turmoil, uglification, uglifying, ugliness, unaestheticness, unattractiveness, unbeautifulness, uncomeliness, uncouthness, uneuphoniousness, ungainliness, ungracefulness, unhandsomeness, unharmoniousness, unloveliness, unmusicality, unpleasingness, unprettiness, unrefinement, unseemliness, unshapeliness, unsightliness, untunefulness, unwieldiness, uproar, upset, vulgarism, vulgarity, wildness, wolf, zeal, zealousness
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