Dissent - descent - descend

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The words dissent, descent, descend are often confused. (See also the antonymic group assent - ascent - ascend.)

  • To descend is a verb meaning 'to go down'. It is pronounced 'di-SEND', IPA: /dɪ ˈsɛnd/. The past tense is descended. The noun of related meaning, in both literal (moving) and figurative (mostly genealogical) senses, is descent, pronounced 'di-SENT', IPA: /dɪ ˈsɛnt/; it sounds the same as dissent.
  • To dissent is a verb meaning 'to disagree'. It is pronounced 'dis-ENT', IPA: /dɪ ˈsɛnt/; past tense dissented. The noun of similar meaning is dissent. For most speakers, the sound of dissent is identical to that of descent - they are homophones. See also Dissent - dissident.

The word decent is sometimes confused by the spellchecker with descent.