alto

noun
al·​to | \ ˈal-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce alto (audio) , ˈȯl- \
plural altos

Definition of alto

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : the second highest voice part in a 4-part chorus
3 : a member of a family of instruments having a range lower than that of the treble or soprano especially : an alto saxophone

alto

adjective

Definition of alto (Entry 2 of 2)

: relating to or having the range or part of an alto

Examples of alto in a Sentence

Noun She sang in her school choir as an alto. Adjective He plays the alto sax.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The alto cumulus clouds that are streaming across San Diego County will absorb and reflect light in a way that will produce a spectacular sunset at 8 p.m. on Tueday, according to the National Weather Service. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 June 2022 Playing alto saxophone with the marching band was a huge part of Christopher Sanfeliz’s time at Gaither High School in Tampa. Orlando Sentinel Staff, Orlando Sentinel, 12 June 2022 So did Carole Rae Woodmansee, an alto who was a few years younger and had sung with the chorale for more than a decade. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2021 McPherson recalls Few musicians spent more time playing in the band of jazz giant Charles Mingus than alto saxophone great Charles McPherson. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Apr. 2022 McDonald picks his alto sax spots wisely in this smooth instrumental from his first solo album Drivers Eyes — and also plays an electric piano that gives the track its restrained but still vibrant mood and flavor. Gary Graff, Billboard, 11 Feb. 2022 Her slide guitar prowess, along with her casually confident stage presence and soulful alto, earned the respect (and friendship) of the men who were her closest contemporaries, like Jackson Browne and James Taylor. Rebecca Milzoff, Billboard, 25 Feb. 2022 Wisniewski, an alto sang with the Cantus at the three performances. Sam Boyer, cleveland, 27 Dec. 2021 Rose, who is both, has a supple alto that can ascend without apparent strain into soprano range. Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Lee Konitz, 92, was an alto saxophonist who was an innovative figure in jazz for more than 70 years. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2020 Kristen Dubenion-Smith possesses a lyric-mezzo of uncommon beauty, her flickering vibrato and the amber cast of her tone making something special out of the alto arias. Joe Banno, Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2019 At sunset, a mix of alto cirrus with mare�s tails and cumulus provide a backdrop to pristine Forester Lake at 10, 240 feet, nestled in the Great Western Divide. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 May 2018 And my uncle is an alto saxophonist named Donald Harrison Jr. who is a legendary figure in creative improvised music, or jazz music. Vann R. Newkirk Ii, The Atlantic, 12 Mar. 2020 Her strong alto voice was a good fit for the song, and the montage was only undercut by the ever-tacky clapping caught on the mic for some of the late artists and not others. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 10 Feb. 2020 The alto saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu is also deeply in the mix, often entwined with Mr. Hutchings’s lines. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, 11 Mar. 2020 Tenor Rodrick Dixon, soprano Alfreda Burke and alto Karen Marie Richardson are the soloists. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Detroit Opera House. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, 11 Dec. 2019 They were joined by pianist Michael Carabello and alto saxophonist Konrad Dziemian. Susan Dunne, courant.com, 26 Sep. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of alto

Noun

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

circa 1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alto

Noun

Italian, literally, high, from Latin altus

Learn More About alto

Dictionary Entries Near alto

altn

alto

Alto Adige

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for alto

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alto.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alto. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for alto

alto

noun
al·​to | \ ˈal-tō How to pronounce alto (audio) \
plural altos

Kids Definition of alto

1 : the lowest female singing voice
2 : the second highest part in harmony that has four parts
3 : a singer or an instrument having an alto range or part

More from Merriam-Webster on alto

Nglish: Translation of alto for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about alto

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!