Definitions

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

  • n. Music A shift of accent in a passage or composition that occurs when a normally weak beat is stressed.
  • n. Something, such as rhythm, that is syncopated.
  • n. Grammar Syncope.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The quality of a rhythm being somehow unexpected, in that it deviates from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak beats in a meter
  • n. The loss of sounds in the middle of a word

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of syncopating; the contraction of a word by taking one or more letters or syllables from the middle; syncope.
  • n. The act of syncopating; a peculiar figure of rhythm, or rhythmical alteration, which consists in welding into one tone the second half of one beat with the first half of the beat which follows.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The contraction of a word by taking a letter, letters, or a syllable from the middle, as in the seamen's fo'c'sle for forecastle; especially, such omission of a short vowel between two consonants.
  • n. In music, the act, process, or result of inverting the rhythmic accent by beginning a tone or tones on an unaccented beat or pulse, and sustaining them into an accented one, so that the proper emphasis on the latter is more or less transferred back or anticipated.

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

  • n. music (especially dance music) that has a syncopated rhythm
  • n. (phonology) the loss of sounds from within a word (as in `fo'c'sle' for `forecastle')
  • n. a musical rhythm accenting a normally weak beat

Etymologies

syncopate +‎ -ion (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • They were quiet for the rest of the short trip, rocking gently on the waves, as the boat headed for the growing island ahead, the light fading, the darkness rising; the waves lapping at the hull like the thuds of a war drum, in syncopation, with regularity.

    2009 November 27 « The BookBanter Blog

  • The rhythmical stress of this syncopation is partly obtained by a marked silent fraction of a beat; frequently this silent fraction is filled in by a hand clap.

    God's Trombones Seven Negro Sermons in Verse

  • When the syncopation is a suspension or retardation, it is treated the same as in harmony.

    A Treatise on Simple Counterpoint in Forty Lessons

  • It is not a melody, but merely the displaced metric accent which musicians call syncopation, rung on the notes of the familiar chord formed by piling three minor thirds on top of one another (technically, the chord of the minor ninth, ci-devant diminished seventh).

    The Perfect Wagnerite, Commentary on the Ring

  • The result is a conflict of rhythms, a kind of syncopation, which produces a very pleasing variant of the formal rhythm.

    The Principles of English Versification

  • a first hearing, eccentric, for the accents fall most frequently on the short notes and on the naturally _unstressed_ beats, producing what we call 'syncopation' of a very intricate and highly developed order.

    The Journal of Negro History, Volume 3, 1918

  • Berlin had learned syncopation by listening to ragtime pianists at a Chinatown nightclub where he worked as a waiter.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • Fife-and-drum units in colonial militias added a heavy, regimented “da-dum, da-dum” beat—free of irregular syncopation—and transformed the dance song into a march.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • The Kalahari gave birth to syncopation and improvisation.

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God

  • Trust ecstatic arousal more than sedated relaxation; pay more attention to irrationality than over-rationality; cultivate circular thought over linear causality; prioritize whole feelings as opposed to fragmented thoughts; seek jazzy syncopation rather than monotonous metronome-like, tick-tock-clock rhythms; become improvisational rather than ritualistic; and revere wild experience over that which is tame.

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God

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