• An independent treble melody usually sung or played above a basic melody.
  • (Literary) A melodious song.
  • A discourse on a theme or subject.


  • Talk tediously or at length.

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Example Sentences

“Mary was selected to sing the soprano descant during the choir concert finale.”

“Roderick was well known for publishing a descant on achieving success in business.”

“Don’t get her started on ‘Star Trek’ — she’ll descant to us in Klingon for hours.”

Word Origin

Middle English, mid-14th century

Why this word?

“Descant” came from the Old French word “deschant” by way of the medieval Latin word “discantus” (“part-song, refrain”). In certain church music traditions, such as those performed by the famous all-male choir of Westminster Abbey, a boy sings a soaring high descant that floats above the rest of the music. Another usage of “descant” refers to any melodious song. In contemporary music, many popular songs sample basic melodies from other well-established tunes. For example, MC Hammer’s 1990s hit “Can’t Touch This” samples the descant from Rick James’ hit “Super Freak,” which came out a full decade earlier.

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