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Alternative forms[edit]


From Anglo-Norman descaunt, from Medieval Latin discantus.



descant (plural descants)

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



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

  1. (intransitive) To discuss at length.
    • 1831, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Romance and Reality, volume 1, 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[edit]