‘Assent’ vs. ‘Ascent’: What’s the Difference?

By Kelsey Weeks, updated on August 12, 2023

When looking at ‘assent’ vs. ‘ascent,’ what really is the difference? Other than being said the same, these words are not generally used in the same conversation, and one is more popular than the other.  Although both had their peak in the 1800s, ‘ascent’ is used a bit more frequently than ‘assent.’

A glimpse of the words:

  • ‘Assent’ means to agree.
  • ‘Ascent’ means to climb.

When looking at these glimpses, it is clear that the words do not mean the same, and the only time they may cross paths is if someone is agreeing to climb or ‘assenting’ to go on an ‘ascent’ up the mountain. Continue reading for details of how to pronounce the words, what they mean, and appropriate usage mentioned later in the article.

What is the Difference Between ‘Assent’ and ‘Ascent?’

‘Assent’ and ‘ascent’ sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. This is known in English as homophones. These can be a bit tricky to understand at first, but once you get your head around the meaning, they will come naturally in speech and writing.

  • ‘Assent’ origins from the Middle English assentir, meaning to consent or agree to. Although some words morph or change throughout time, the only thing that did on this one was the spelling a bit to change assentir to ‘assent.’
  • ‘Ascent’ is different in the way that it was formed was first from the word ascend, and then a noun version was created around 1581, ‘ascent.’ Ascend comes from Middle English ascendere, meaning to climb.

Definition of ‘Assent’: What Does it Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘assent’ can be a verb or noun.

As a verb, it means:

  • To agree to or approve of something, such as an idea or suggestion, especially after thoughtful consideration.

As a noun, it means:

  • An act of agreeing to something, especially after thoughtful consideration: an act of assenting.

Synonyms of ‘Assent’

  • Agree
  • Consent
  • Approval
  • Acquiescence
  • Agreement
  • Acceptance
  • Okay
  • Confirmation

Antonyms of ‘Assent’

  • Dissent
  • Refuse
  • Reject
  • Deny
  • Revocation
  • Injunction
  • Veto

Definition of ‘Ascent’: What Does it Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘ascent’ is a noun.

As a noun, it means:

  • The act of rising or mounting upward.
    • An upward slope or rising grade.
    • The degree of elevation.
  • An advance in social status or reputation.
  • Going back in time or upward in order of genealogical succession.

Synonyms of ‘Ascent’

  • Climb
  • Ascension
  • Rising
  • Rise
  • Takeoff
  • Hike
  • Soar
  • Hill
  • Incline
  • Uphill
  • Promotion
  • Advancement

Antonyms of ‘Ascent’

  • Reduction
  • Degradation
  • Abasement
  • Removal
  • Demotion
  • Deposition
  • Descent
  • Decline
  • Fall
  • Downhill
  • Dip
  • Drop

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Assent’ and ‘Ascent’

Although these words may look like you would pronounce them differently, they are said the same. The way to use them in speech is just as crucial as how to use them in writing, so review how to pronounce them to be prepared to enhance your vocabulary.

  • The phonetic spelling of 'assent’ and ‘ascent’ is:

                Uh sent

When to use ‘Assent’ vs. ‘Ascent’

Here are examples of when to use ‘assent’ and ‘ascent.’

  • Use ‘assent’ when discussing a proposal.

In this example, you can respond to a proposal with:

After much consideration of the details, I ‘assent’ to the proposal with the organization.

  • Use ‘assent’ when discussing an opportunity.

For example, one can inform their family:

Yesterday, I gave my assent to the non-profit, and I will be moving near their headquarters to start my work.

  • You can use ‘ascent’ when showing progress.

As an example, someone notes to themselves:

My ascent in the company was a culmination of my work ethic, attention to detail, and communication with my peers. 

  • You can also use ‘ascent’ when discussing elevation.

You may tell someone:

The best part of the hike was the ascent to the very top at the peak, where it took much concentration but was breathtaking.

Sample Sentences Using 'Assent'

Review these sample sentences to learn to use ‘assent’ when speaking and writing, and it is typically used in formal situations.

  • The problem, the investigator learned, was that the leader was able to get all the group members to ‘assent’ to some part of the crime.
  • You cannot assume that one has given their ‘assentwithout checking to see that the proper paperwork has been completed.
  • Although it did not seem like the best-case scenario, the young lawyer ‘assented’ to working on the new case and left the other to more experienced lawyers.
  • The parents reviewed the travel plans and gave theirassent’ to the trip as long as there was communication, and the plans were followed.
  • After the administration gave an inspiring speech, the employees ‘assented’ with cheers that they think it will be the best school year yet.

Sample Sentences Using 'Ascent'

Review these sample sentences to learn how to use ‘ascent’ when writing or talking about climbing or elevation.

  • For seven days, the pack of wolves worked on the ‘ascent’ up the ridge to a new location for food because their previous hunting ground at the bottom of the mountain had been taken over.
  • Even though the pilot asked for no electronics on the ‘ascent,’ the flight attendants had to remind a few passengers while the plane flew into the sky.
  • Looking at young leaders’ ‘ascent’ to power, there are always a few common attributes that the leaders show even though they are young. The most important thing is that they are disciplined from an early age.

Closing Words on ‘Assent’ vs. ‘Ascent’

A quick recap on ‘assent’ vs. ‘ascent’:

  • ‘Assent’ is a verb or noun to do with agreeing.
  • ‘Ascent’ is a noun relating to climbing, rising, or a hill.

As a reminder, even though these words sound the same because they are homophones, they have very different meanings, so it is important to learn the spelling not to confuse your audience. Hopefully, after this review looking at the differences between the two, you will feel confident and ready to ascend in your writing.

All posts on our website explain how to use tricky words correctly. Check back frequently to reduce the errors in your writing. You can find additional resources on English words in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Kelsey Weeks
Kelsey Weeks is currently a school counselor at a high school and a previous English teacher. She loves helping others with literacy, learning more, and exploring nature. She has an undergrad in English with an emphasis on secondary education and an M.A. in Applied Psychology from NYU.

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