har·​mon·​ic | \ här-ˈmä-nik How to pronounce harmonic (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from harmonic


harmonically \ här-​ˈmä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce harmonically (audio) \ 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

Thus, the harmonic and rhythmic weight is carried equally by both musicians, lending this music rare balance. Larry Blumenfeld, WSJ, "‘Duologue’ by Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez Review: Channeling Cross-Cultural Passions," 26 Jan. 2019 Besides using a tuner, a quick way to check intonation is to play a note on the 12th fret and then play the same harmonic on the 12th fret by lightly depressing your finger on the middle of the fret and letting the note ring out. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 Spruce is a stiff, light-weight, bright sounding wood with complex harmonic overtones and robust sound projection. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "Fender's 'Acoustasonic' Is a True Acoustic-Electric Hybrid Guitar," 22 Jan. 2019 The fretted note should be the same pitch as the harmonic. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 At the other end is an actuator arm that's connected to a harmonic drive. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Variable-compression engine meets crossover: Infiniti QX50 review," 8 Nov. 2018 The Amp’s signal to noise ratio is 116dB with under 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion. Chris Welch, The Verge, "The new Sonos Amp is coming to save your old speakers," 29 Aug. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The exhaust soundtrack has been engineered to have the bass-heavy harmonics that buyers reportedly associate with grand tourers. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "The 2020 McLaren GT Is a Mid-Engined Supercar Built for Luxurious Grand Touring," 15 May 2019 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of harmonic


1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about harmonic

Statistics for harmonic

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for harmonic

The first known use of harmonic was in 1570

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for harmonic



English Language Learners Definition of harmonic

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on harmonic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with harmonic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harmonic

Spanish Central: Translation of harmonic

Nglish: Translation of harmonic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harmonic

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).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!