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For pitch accent in music, see accent (music). For intonational pitch accent, see pitch accent (intonation).

Pitch accent is a feature of certain languages whereby variations in pitch (linguistic tones) can be used to differentiate words, but where the potentially distinctive tones are restricted to only one or two syllables within a word – as opposed to fully tonal languages like Standard Chinese, where each syllable can have an independent tone. In a pitch accent language, the syllable with phonemic tone is typically one that is acoustically prominent (stressed). Also many words may not be marked for tone at all.

Languages that have been described as pitch accent languages include certain Scandinavian and South Slavic languages, Ancient Greek, Vedic Sanskrit, Japanese, Korean, Hiaki and Shanghainese.

It has been claimed that the term "pitch accent" is not coherently defined, and indeed it is also used to denote a different feature, namely the use (or relatively strong use) of pitch, as opposed to other cues such as acoustic intensity, to give prominence (accent) to a syllable or mora within a word. The latter feature is dealt with in the article Pitch accent (intonation).

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