To accentuate something is to emphasize it. If you use a lot of emphasis to describe part of a meal, as in "the steak was SOOO good, and I liked the salad too," you "accent" what "-u" "-ate," or accentuate, the highlight of the meal — the steak.

There is an old song with the lyrics "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative." The drawn-out pronunciation of the word accentuate (ack-SEN-chew-ate) draws attention to the word, which is exactly what accentuate does: it draws attention to something. Sometimes, though, a negative quality gets the focus, as in "his bad mood did a lot to accentuate his reputation as a grump," but the negative is usually an unintentional way to get attention.

Definitions of accentuate

v stress or single out as important

accent, emphasise, emphasize, punctuate, stress
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background, downplay, play down
understate the importance or quality of
bring out, set off
direct attention to, as if by means of contrast
re-emphasise, re-emphasize
emphasize anew
bear down
pay special attention to
emphasize by putting heavy stress on or by moving to the front of the sentence
point up
emphasize, especially by identification
drive home, press home, ram home
make clear by special emphasis and try to convince somebody of something
emphasise, emphasize, underline, underscore
give extra weight to (a communication)
pick up
lift out or reflect from a background
wave off
dismiss as insignificant
foreground, highlight, play up, spotlight
move into the foreground to make more visible or prominent
bring (a surface or a design) into relief and cause to project
play down or obscure
Type of:
evince, express, show
give expression to

v put stress on; utter with an accent

accent, stress
Type of:
articulate, enounce, enunciate, pronounce, say, sound out
speak, pronounce, or utter in a certain way

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