English

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Alternative forms

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Etymology

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From Anglo-Norman descaunt, from Medieval Latin discantus.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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descant (plural descants)

  1. A lengthy discourse on a subject.
    • 1828, Thomas De Quincey, “Elements of Rhetoric”, in Blackwood's Magazine:
      Upon that simplest of themes how magnificent a descant!
  2. (music) A counterpoint melody sung or played above the theme.

Derived terms

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Translations

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Verb

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descant (third-person singular simple present descants, present participle descanting, simple past and past participle descanted)

  1. (intransitive) To discuss at length.
    • 1831, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Romance and Reality. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, pages 128–129:
      but shun the establishment of a bachelor who has hung a pendulum between temptation and prudence till the age of———but of all subjects, age is the one on which it is most invidious to descant.
    • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 4, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[1]:
      “… This is a surprise attack, and I’d no wish that the garrison, forewarned, should escape. I am sure, Lord Stranleigh, that he has been descanting on the distraction of the woods and the camp, or perhaps the metropolitan dissipation of Philadelphia, …”
    • 1919, Ronald Firbank, Valmouth, Duckworth, hardback edition, page 121
      Involving some interesting, intellectual trips, she was descanting lightly to right and left.
  2. (intransitive, music) To sing or play a descant.

Further reading

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Anagrams

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