coun·​ter·​ten·​or ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌte-nər How to pronounce countertenor (audio)
: a tenor with an unusually high range (such as an alto range)

Examples of countertenor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The conductor is Raphaël Pichon, a countertenor from France. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 27 Aug. 2023 Rather than relying on falsetto as a countertenor would, Mariño, 28, is able to comfortably sing high notes with his chest voice. New York Times, 27 May 2022 Soloists were soprano Audrey Luna, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, tenor Herbert Lippert and baritone Sean Michael Plumb. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 12 May 2023 Among those who danced and sang with Batiste were tap dancer Ayodele Casel; countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo; and a band that included Endea Owens on bass, Bria Skonberg on trumpet, Joe Saylor and Nêgah Santos on percussion, John Altieri on sousaphone and Tivon Pennicott on sax. Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2021 Daniel Bubeck was a rather hooty version of a countertenor — and there’s little evidence that Bach had his alto solos sung by falsettists, as opposed to boys. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 1 May 2023 Holiday is a countertenor. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, 20 Oct. 2020 Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo were the perfect double act in this breathtaking cabaret-fantasia, based on the unlikeliest collaboration in the vocal universe: Costanzo, a world class countertenor, singing duets with Bond, New York’s favorite alt-cabaret chanteuse. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 17 Dec. 2021 Aucoin splits the role of Orpheus — his earthly form sung with force and fire throughout by baritone Joshua Hopkins, and his otherworldly double sung by countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, whose silken lines were a bit too frequently overwhelmed by his partner. Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'countertenor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near countertenor

Cite this Entry

“Countertenor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


coun·​ter·​ten·​or ˈkau̇nt-ər-ˌten-ər How to pronounce countertenor (audio)
: a tenor with an unusually high range

More from Merriam-Webster on countertenor

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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