noun ten·or \ˈte-nər\

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

: the general or basic quality or meaning of something

Full Definition of TENOR

a :  the drift of something spoken or written :  purport
b :  an exact copy of a writing :  transcript
c :  the concept, object, or person meant in a metaphor
a :  the melodic line usually forming the cantus firmus in medieval music
b :  the voice part next to the lowest in a 4-part chorus
c :  the highest natural adult male singing voice; also :  a person having this voice
d :  a member of a family of instruments having a range next lower than that of the alto
:  a continuance in a course, movement, or activity
:  habitual condition :  character

Examples of TENOR

  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>.

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue

Rhymes with TENOR



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

Full Definition of TENOR

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

Examples of TENOR

  1. Verdi wrote some difficult tenor parts.
  2. She plays the tenor sax.

First Known Use of TENOR


Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue
TENOR Defined for Kids


noun ten·or \ˈte-nər\

Definition of TENOR for Kids

:  the next to the lowest part in harmony having four parts
:  the highest male singing voice
:  a singer or an instrument having a tenor range or part


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