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 The quiet storm of Sade’s contralto fills the room—a sign that Kris Jenner has, at least for the moment, control of the playlist. Jonathan Van Meter, WSJ, "How Kris Jenner Is Taking the Kardashian-Jenner Empire to Hulu and Beyond," 23 Mar. 2021 Which leads to the following question: What actress can nail Holmes’s contralto and Steve Jobs cosplay? Chris Murphy, Vulture, "Kate McKinnon Drops Out of The Drop Out Hulu Series About Elizabeth Holmes," 18 Feb. 2021 As a contralto, Anderson’s repertoire included classical music, popular songs, and spirituals. Caroline Rogers, Southern Living, "A New Documentary Celebrates the Legendary 20th Century Singer Marian Anderson," 30 May 2020 The two characters are each embodied by two onstage singers (the woman by a soprano and a contralto, and the man by a baritone and a countertenor), as well as by prerecorded alto and tenor parts and an offstage chorus of sixteen voices. Matthew Aucoin, The New York Review of Books, "Opera at the Edge," 7 Dec. 2019 Marian Anderson was one of the reigning symbols of African-American achievement: in Norman’s childhood, memories were still fresh of the contralto’s legendary performance at the Lincoln Memorial, in 1939, before a vast crowd. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Shimmering Magnificence of Jessye Norman," 3 Oct. 2019 Even at the height of her fame, African-American contralto singer Marian Anderson encountered barriers erected solely because of the color of her skin. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian, "How Marian Anderson Became an Iconic Symbol for Equality," 9 Apr. 2014 Of the two Swedish vocal soloists, contralto Anna Larsson remained earthbound, while soprano Miah Persson soared. Los Angeles Times, "Review: For Gustavo Dudamel, Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ is no mere picnic at the Hollywood Bowl," 24 July 2019 Joe, for example, is described as heavily breathing, and so the sound of breath became a jumping-off point for my use of woodwind instruments like the contralto clarinet and the flute. Paige Hymson,, "Play Next: The story behind a podcast’s original music," 25 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of contralto

1740, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contralto

Italian, from contra- + alto

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Time Traveler for contralto

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The first known use of contralto was in 1740

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Statistics for contralto

Last Updated

4 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contralto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for contralto



English Language Learners Definition of contralto

: the lowest female singing voice also : a female singer with such a voice


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

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