har·​mon·​ic | \här-ˈmä-nik \

Definition of harmonic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : musical

2 : of or relating to musical harmony or a harmonic

3 : pleasing to the ear : harmonious

4 : of an integrated nature : congruous



Definition of harmonic (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : overtone especially : one whose vibration frequency is an integral multiple of that of the fundamental

b : a flutelike tone produced on a stringed instrument by touching a vibrating string at a nodal point

2 : a component frequency of a complex wave (as of electromagnetic energy) that is an integral multiple of the fundamental frequency

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Other Words from harmonic


harmonically \ här-​ˈmä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of harmonic in a Sentence


the desire to live the kind of harmonic life in which work and family are perfectly balanced

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Their movements are as synchronized as those of soldiers in formation; their voices, a harmonic convergence that finds the melody in anger. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Fall’ Delivers Stirring Protest in South Africa," 12 Mar. 2018 The studio chops were impeccable, and the songs had a high level of harmonic and lyrical sophistication. John Adamian, courant.com, "Tedeschi Trucks And Jay Critch Are Just Two Of This Week's Must-See Shows," 2 July 2018 The vibrancy of the gamelan orchestra, with its synchronized gongs and bells, poignant flute and vocal melodies, transcended in sheer brilliance the specific implications of harmonic modes and other technical procedures. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "The musical view from Mexico and Bali (by way of Northridge and Santa Monica)," 20 Feb. 2018 Even as harmonic convergences in the world of sports go, the story of Jackie Stiles and the Missouri State women’s basketball team’s run to the 2001 Final Four was on a special tier. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "Keep room in your heart for Jackie Stiles as she battles cancer," 16 Jan. 2018 Their harmonic voices, and their cumulative success, are no doubt a testament to what a good teacher can accomplish in a career. Steve Hartman, CBS News, "Former students surprise music teacher who changed their lives," 13 July 2018 But the lack of a unifying harmonic or melodic language is only part of what makes this moderately entertaining, frequently infuriating two-hour work a bumpy ride. New York Times, "Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin Don’t Talk. They Sing.," 24 June 2018 Though Blakeslee conveyed an obvious gift for melody, the repetitive nature of the piece called for some editing, while its unadorned phrase-making needed greater textural and harmonic complexity. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Gregory Porter sounds sumptuous with CSO," 12 June 2018 On the recent Brighter Wounds (City Slang), their craftsmanship is beyond reproach, but jazz and classical make their presence felt only as sources of harmonic complexity—and sometimes the music's pop impulses would benefit from a shorter leash. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Music / Post No Bills New York trio Son Lux combine sophisticated craft and overplayed pop on their frustratingly great new album," 28 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

High string harmonics reminded me of the relentless sun. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Becoming John Luther Adams: The evolution of one of America's hottest composers," 3 May 2018 In the piano bell tones where corresponding harmonics are manually played more softly above the fundamental pitch, Angelich’s balance was perfection. Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, "Nicholas Angelich joins Stéphane Denève and Philadelphia Orchestra on musical jaunts," 27 Apr. 2018 Bordreuil’s latest tape with bassist Zach Rowden, Hollow (No Rent), is entirely acoustic, with music that moves from whispery harmonics to viscous, deeply fricative slabs. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "French cellist and sound artist Leila Bordreuil diffuses and distorts bowed lines in her Chicago debut," 8 Mar. 2018 The piece is a technical tour de force for the solo violin, including the slippery sounds of the player slurring through passages of harmonics. Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Program change makes for an effective blend in Milwaukee Symphony performance," 2 Feb. 2018 There's talk of the harmonics of music created between one vibrating celestial body and the next, a school of thought to which Dr. Cervi apparently subscribes. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Farinelli and the King': Theater Review," 18 Dec. 2017 Over three extended pieces, his striated long tones glisten with sour harmonics, cavernous overtones, and breath surges that make the music expand and contract in visceral waves. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "John McCowen shares his research on the contrabass clarinet with a riveting new solo album," 8 Dec. 2017 Gnashing dissonant chords, insectoid buzzings and furiously scrubbing strings abruptly morph into almost inaudible glissandos played in whistling harmonics. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Arditti Quartet launches Ligeti series with wondrous, strange sounds," 21 Oct. 2017 There appear, through some weird alchemy of harmonics, phantom instruments. Geoff Dyer, New York Times, "My Obsession With the Necks, the Greatest Trio on Earth," 4 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harmonic.' 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 harmonic


1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for harmonic

Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for harmonic

The first known use of harmonic was in 1570

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English Language Learners Definition of harmonic

: of or relating to musical harmony rather than melody or rhythm

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Comments on harmonic

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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