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noun ten·or \ˈte-nər\

Simple Definition of tenor

  • : the highest adult male singing voice; also : a singer who has such a voice

  • : the general or basic quality or meaning of something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tenor

  1. 1a :  the drift of something spoken or written :  purportb :  an exact copy of a writing :  transcriptc :  the concept, object, or person meant in a metaphor

  2. 2a :  the melodic line usually forming the cantus firmus in medieval musicb :  the voice part next to the lowest in a 4-part chorusc :  the highest natural adult male singing voice; also :  a person having this voiced :  a member of a family of instruments having a range next lower than that of the alto

  3. 3 :  a continuance in a course, movement, or activity

  4. 4 :  habitual condition :  character

Examples of tenor in a sentence

  1. He has a high, lilting tenor.

  2. She asked the tenors to sing the line again.

  3. The tenor of his remarks is clear.

Origin of tenor

Middle English tenour, from Anglo-French, from Latin tenor uninterrupted course, from tenēre to hold — more at thin

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of tenor

tendency, trend, drift, tenor, current mean movement in a particular direction. tendency implies an inclination sometimes amounting to an impelling force <a general tendency toward inflation>. trend applies to the general direction maintained by a winding or irregular course <the long-term trend of the stock market is upward>. drift may apply to a tendency determined by external forces <the drift of the population away from large cities> or it may apply to an underlying or obscure trend of meaning or discourse <got the drift of her argument>. tenor stresses a clearly perceptible direction and a continuous, undeviating course <the tenor of the times>. current implies a clearly defined but not necessarily unalterable course <an encounter that changed the current of my life>.

Rhymes with tenor



adjective ten·or

Simple Definition of tenor

  • : having a range that is lower than an alto and higher than a baritone

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tenor

  1. :  relating to or having the range or part of a tenor

Examples of tenor in a sentence

  1. Verdi wrote some difficult tenor parts.

  2. She plays the tenor sax.


First Known Use of tenor


TENOR Defined for Kids


noun ten·or \ˈte-nər\

Definition of tenor for Students

  1. 1 :  the next to the lowest part in harmony having four parts

  2. 2 :  the highest male singing voice

  3. 3 :  a singer or an instrument having a tenor range or part

Seen and Heard

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a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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