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Onomatopoeic. Compare Middle English twengen (to pinch, tweak), from Old English twenġen (to pinch, twinge); Middle English twingen (to afflict, torment, oppress), from Old Norse þvinga (to weigh down, oppress); Old English twingan (to force, press).


  • enPR: twăng, IPA(key): /twæŋ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æŋ


twang (plural twangs)

  1. The sharp, quick sound of a vibrating tight string, for example, of a bow or a musical instrument.
    • 1860, [George] Walter Thornbury, “Life in Spain: Past and Present”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name), New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square, OCLC 2870806, page 148:
      Let me give you in rude recitation, with here and there a twang and a caper of the guitar-strings, my vision of the Cid's sally from his besieged castle of Alcocer—the first outburst of that Spanish deluge that never receded till it rose over the dead body of the last Moor.
  2. (music) A particular sharp vibrating sound characteristic of electric guitars.
  3. A trace of a regional or foreign accent in someone's voice.
    Despite having lived in Canada for 20 years, he still has that Eastern-European twang in his voice.
    • 2007, Nigel Cliff, The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-century America, →ISBN, page 90:
      A few insinuated that the American was not first-rate in Shakespeare, and one or two snidely detected a twang of the backwoods in his accent; []
    • 2020 December 2, Paul Bigland, “My weirdest and wackiest Rover yet”, in Rail, page 65:
      Judging by the new voice over the PA, we've had a crew change in Plymouth - the warning about masks and the apology for lack of catering is made in a chirpy Cockney twang rather than a West Country burr.
  4. (phonetics) The sound quality that appears in the human voice when the epilaryngeal tube is narrowed.
  5. A sharp, disagreeable taste or flavor.
    • 2011, Marvin Carpenter, The 1929 Depression: Hey! That’s Perry County!, Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 2:
      Buttermilk also tastes different today. What do people do when they make buttermilk for the public that gives buttermilk that twang taste? Do these people put milk in an aging tank to mature like wine in a place where air and germs can't get to it?
  6. (vulgar, slang) An annoying or stupid person, recalcitrant.


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twang (third-person singular simple present twangs, present participle twanging, simple past and past participle twanged)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To produce or cause to produce a sharp vibrating sound, like a tense string pulled and suddenly let go.
  2. (intransitive) To have a nasal sound.
  3. (intransitive) To have a trace of a regional or foreign accent.
  4. (music) To play a stringed musical instrument by plucking and snapping.

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