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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.
    • 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, …”
  2. (intransitive) To sing or play a descant.


  • 1919, Ronald Firbank, Valmouth, Duckworth, hardback edition, page 121
    Involving some interesting, intellectual trips, she was descanting lightly to right and left.