Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Word of the Day 11/30/2010

Cacophony (noun): harsh or discordant sound : dissonance; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases

Examples: Feedback from the microphone produced an awful, shrieking cacophony equivalent to the sound of nails scratching on a blackboard.

"Imagine a tent full of celebrities, artists and art patrons dressed in their designer best -- Eli Broad, Frank Gehry, Jeff Koons, Gwen Stefani and more -- submitting to a cacophony of farm auctioneers calling, cattle ranchers whipping and drummers drumming." -- From an article by Booth Moore, describing a gala fundraiser, in the Los Angeles Times, November 15, 2010

Did You Know?: Words that descend from the Greek word "phōnē" are making noise in English. Why? Because "phōnē" means "sound" or "voice." "Cacophony" comes from a joining of the Greek prefix "kak-," meaning "bad," with "phōnē", so it essentially means "bad sound." "Symphony," a word that indicates harmony or agreement in sound, traces to "phōnē" and the Greek prefix "syn-," which means "together." "Polyphony" refers to a style of musical composition in which two or more independent melodies are juxtaposed in harmony, and it comes from a combination of "phōnē" and the Greek prefix "poly-," meaning "many." And "euphony," a word for a pleasing or sweet sound, combines "phōnē" with "eu-," a prefix that means "good."

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

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