con·​tral·​to | \ kən-ˈtral-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce contralto (audio) \
plural contraltos

Definition of contralto

1a : a singing voice having a range between tenor and mezzo-soprano
b : a person having this voice
2 : the part sung by a contralto

Examples of contralto in a Sentence

a duet performed by a soprano and a contralto
Recent Examples on the Web Critics delighted in her rich, fluid contralto voice, which easily handled the complex embellishments demanded of Rossini heroines. New York Times, 13 May 2022 Odetta was the secret-agent contralto, amplifying a history of pain others were using for sing-alongs. Sasha Frere-jones, The New Yorker, 24 Feb. 2022 By all reports, her wide-ranging contralto possessed the kind of resonant halo that technology is helpless to reproduce. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 19 Oct. 2021 The other excellent Iphigenias included Nivi Ravi, Joanna Lynn-Jacobs, Alexandra Smither and Sharmay Musacchio (though her impressive contralto was ill served by the bouncing vocal line of her Act II aria, made obvious by the sound design). Heidi Waleson, WSJ, 14 Dec. 2021 Singing soulfully but very quietly at first, her rich contralto builds in perfect sync with the stately tempo. Bill Adler, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Dec. 2021 Marian Anderson’s wide-ranging contralto possessed the kind of resonant halo that technology is helpless to reproduce. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 19 Oct. 2021 Valdes dressed contralto Marian Anderson -- the first Black woman to perform with the Metropolitan Opera -- during much of her career, Ristvet said. CNN, 1 Oct. 2021 Apple, with her singular smoky contralto, modelled the complex emotions of the line for Amber, warming her up to record. Mick Stevens, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of contralto

1740, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contralto

Italian, from contra- + alto

Learn More About contralto

Time Traveler for contralto

Time Traveler

The first known use of contralto was in 1740

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near contralto



contra mundum

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for contralto

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contralto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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

More Definitions for contralto


con·​tral·​to | \ kən-ˈtral-tō How to pronounce contralto (audio) \
plural contraltos

Kids Definition of contralto

1 : the lowest female singing voice : alto
2 : a singer with a low female singing voice

More from Merriam-Webster on contralto

Nglish: Translation of contralto for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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