Etym: [F. accent, L. accentus; ad + cantus a singing, canere to sing. See Cant
1 A superior force of voice or of articulative effort upon some particular syllable of a word or a phrase, distinguishing it from the others.
Note: Many English words have two accents, the primary and the secondary; the primary being uttered with a greater stress of voice than the secondary; as in as’pira”tion, where the chief stress is on the third syllable, and a slighter stress on the first. Some words, as an’tiap’o-plec”tic, in-com’pre-hen’si-bil”i-ty, have two secondary accents. See Guide
to Pron., tt 30-46.
2 A mark or character used in writing, and serving to regulate the pronunciation; esp.: (a) a mark to indicate the nature and place of the spoken accent; (b) a mark to indicate the quality of sound of the vowel marked; as, the French accents.
Note: In the ancient Greek the acute accent (‘) meant a raised tone or pitch, the grave (`), the level tone or simply the negation of accent, the circumflex ( ~ or ^) a tone raised and then depressed. In works on elocution, the first is often used to denote the rising inflection of the voice; the second, the falling inflection; and the third (^), the compound or waving inflection. In dictionaries, spelling books, and the like, the acute accent is used to designate the syllable which receives the chief stress of voice.
3 Modulation of the voice in speaking; manner of speaking or pronouncing; peculiar or characteristic modification of the voice; tone; as, a foreign accent; a French or a German accent. “Beguiled you in a plain accent.” Shak. “A perfect accent.” Thackeray. The tender accent of a woman’s cry. Prior.
4 A word; a significant tone; (pl.) expressions in general; speech. Winds! on your wings to Heaven her accents bear, Such words as Heaven alone is fit to hear. Dryden.
Stress laid on certain syllables of a verse.
(a) A regularly recurring stress upon the tone to mark the beginning, and, more feebly, the third part of the measure.
(b) A special emphasis of a tone, even in the weaker part of the measure.
(c) The rythmical accent, which marks phrases and sections of a period.
(d) The expressive emphasis and shading of a passage. J. S. Dwight.
(a) A mark placed at the right hand of a letter, and a little above it, to distinguish magnitudes of a similar kind expressed by the same letter, but differing in value, as y’, y”.
(b) (Trigon.) A mark at the right hand of a number, indicating minutes of a degree, seconds, etc.; as, 12’27”, i. e., twelve minutes twenty seven seconds.
(c) (Engin.) A mark used to denote feet and inches; as, 6′ 10” is six feet ten inches.