coun·ter·ten·or | \ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌte-nər \

Definition of countertenor 

: a tenor with an unusually high range (such as an alto range)

Examples of countertenor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In inviting John Holiday, a true male soprano with a voice of soaring purity and none of the nasal virility more common of countertenors, the L.A. Phil had the best of both worlds. Mark Swed,, "The L.A. Phil's Bernstein and Beethoven peace project," 20 Apr. 2018 Even connoisseurs argue over the true countertenor's range. Rick Schultz,, "John Holiday, the man singing Bernstein with the highest of high voices in Disney Hall," 18 Apr. 2018 Chamber concerts feature countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and the JACK and St. Lawrence string quartets. 843-579-3100, Tanglewood Festival: June 15-Sept. John Von Rhein,, "A selective guide to U.S. summer classical music festivals," 1 May 2018 Features many soloists from within orchestra and vocals from international sensation countertenor Iestyn Davies. Rasputin Todd,, "Things to do this week in Cincinnati: May 1-6," 30 Apr. 2018 Franz Welser-Most, Vinay Parameswaran, Lisa Wong, conductors; Lestyn Davies, countertenor; Paul Jacobs, organ; and Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. Mark Rapp,, "Cleveland Arts listings for April 27-May 3: Cleveland Orchestra presents Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" & More," 26 Apr. 2018 Los Angeles Times The highest male voice in opera is the countertenor — and John Holiday is considered among the finest. Carolina A. Miranda,, "Essential Arts & Culture: Getty Villa's redo, speaker dresses and Kendrick Lamar's Pulitzer — damn!," 21 Apr. 2018 At one point, countertenor Charles Humphries (a capable replacement for Robin Blaze) donned a petticoat and smeared lipstick on his mouth to play the rustic Mopsa, spurning Brook’s amorous Coridon in a hilarious duet. Zoë Madonna,, "Handel and Haydn ‘Fairy Queen’ is delightful," 7 Apr. 2018 The idea behind this recital from a noted countertenor and a lutenist is simple: Shakespeare’s words, set to music, interspersed with readings from the playwright, given by the actor Simon Jones. David Allen, New York Times, "6 Classical Music Concerts to See in NYC This Weekend," 5 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of countertenor

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for countertenor

Middle English countretenour part balancing the tenor, from Middle French contreteneur, from contre- + teneur tenor

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about countertenor

Share countertenor

Statistics for countertenor

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for countertenor

The first known use of countertenor was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

More from Merriam-Webster on countertenor

See words that rhyme with countertenor Encyclopedia article about countertenor

Comments on countertenor

What made you want to look up countertenor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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