from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Music A vocal or instrumental part that supports another, often solo, part.
  • n. Something, such as a situation, that accompanies something else; a concomitant.
  • n. Something added for embellishment, completeness, or symmetry; complement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A part, usually performed by instruments, that gives support or adds to the background in music, or adds for ornamentation; also, the harmony of a figured bass.
  • n. That which accompanies; something that attends as a circumstance, or which is added to give greater completeness to the principal thing, or by way of ornament, or for the sake of symmetry.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which accompanies; something that attends as a circumstance, or which is added to give greater completeness to the principal thing, or by way of ornament, or for the sake of symmetry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Something that attends another as a circumstance; something incidental or added to the principal thing as a concomitant, by way of ornament, for the sake of symmetry, or the like.
  • n. Specifically— In music, the subordinate part or parts added to a solo or concerted composition to enhance the effect, and also, if it be a vocal composition, to sustain the voices and keep them true to the pitch. The accompaniment may be given to one or more instruments, or to a chorus of voices. Instead of writing accompaniments in full, as is now done, the older composers were accustomed merely to indicate the harmonies to be employed by means of a figured bass, which could be performed in a great variety of ways, more or less elaborate, according to the musical knowledge, taste, and skill of the executant.
  • n. In painting, an object accessory to the principal object, and serving for its ornament or illustration: generally termed an accessory (which see).
  • n. In heraldry, anything added to a shield by way of ornament, as the belt, mantling, supporters, etc.
  • n. An accompaniment is said to be obbligato when it so far differs from that which is accompanied that it is necessary for the intended effect, but ad libitum when it so nearly coincides with that which is accompanied that it may or may not be used, at will. The form of an accompaniment is specifically described by terms such as arpeggio, figured, pulsatile, harmonic, contrapuntal, running, etc., and its character is indicated by naming the instrument or other apparatus by which it is provided: as, a piano accompaniment, a chorus accompaniment, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a musical part (vocal or instrumental) that supports or provides background for other musical parts
  • n. an event or situation that happens at the same time as or in connection with another
  • n. the act of accompanying someone or something in order to protect them
  • n. something added to complete or embellish or make perfect


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Their traditional accompaniment is salsa borracha - “drunken sauce” - made with pasilla chiles and pulque.

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  • Later yet, at a Boheme, i really can't hear Luciano's top at all, except when the accompaniment is vide or he happens to catch hold of a phrase riding nicely from below, as at the opening of "O Mimi, tu piu."

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  • The usual breakfast accompaniment is Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk; the intensely vegetal pennywort tea is worth trying too.



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  • ACCompanimENT: A scarf, say, is an accompaniment and an accent.

    July 30, 2009

  • Oh, I guess my ears were playing tricks on me. I thought you said keyboardist.

    March 2, 2007

  • Accompaniment, uselessness. I said "accompaniment"--you know, like a pian--like a guy who plays the piano?

    March 2, 2007

  • chained_bear, what did you just say? It sounded like... nevermind.

    March 2, 2007

  • Yeah, but pianist is on uselessness's list of No-nos. I'd be cautious about throwing that word around. Har har...

    March 2, 2007

  • I think the only solution is to refer to the pianist as a pianist. This is probably more polite, as well. I guess you could say, "joining me on piano".

    March 2, 2007

  • What alternative would you suggest? e.g. for what a pianist does for a singer (assuming sabotage is not an accurate description)?

    March 2, 2007

  • It's just a hodge podge of sounds. Not a good word. It looks bad.

    March 1, 2007