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 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 Meticulously crafted and ever-evolving in collaboration with French master creator and ex-paramour Jean-Paul Goude, the singer’s Afrofuturist image is as integral to her character as her sultry contralto and subversive stage presence. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Happy Birthday, Grace Jones! 18 Times the Fearless Pop Icon Broke the Beauty Mold," 19 May 2019 Milosh, who formed Rhye with producer Robin Hannibal but now works it as a solo project, is best known for his breathy, androgynous contralto. Randall Roberts,, "California Sounds: New music from Deb Never, Sublime with Rome and Rhye," 5 June 2019 The snare drum death march and the psychedelic Jefferson Airplane-like flourishes seem to accentuate Dylan’s vitriolic, unforgiving words in a silly way, but Cher’s steadfast contralto grounds the affair. Jessi Roti,, "15 of the weirdest Bob Dylan cover songs to celebrate his birthday," 24 May 2018 While West's vaudevillian attitude was practically a genetic predisposition by nature of her husky contralto voice and charisma, Sontag argues that West knew how to play to her audience—and her hyper-feminine beauty is evidence of just that. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "From Josephine Baker to Cher, 25 Camp Beauty Icons Through the Decades," 2 May 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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The first known use of contralto was in 1740

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Cite this Entry

“Contralto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for contralto


How to pronounce contralto (audio)

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

Spanish Central: Translation of contralto

Nglish: Translation of contralto for Spanish Speakers

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