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

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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

That harmonic relationship began long before the concert on the river surfaced. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "Operatunity sees opportunity in free concert along the river in Stillwater," 9 Aug. 2019 The Swiss researchers relied on a harmonic perspective to decode the maestro's distinctive compositional style. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Roll over, Beethoven: Decoding the maestro’s musical style with statistics," 3 Aug. 2019 His improvisations are wanders through thickets, not lost but absorbed in the harmonic brush, picking up whatever is available. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: L.A. needs a summer music festival. Piano Spheres and Monday Evening Concerts show the way," 30 July 2019 That may be a bit of an exaggeration, considering that the harmonic revolution of bebop obviously has no parallel in dance. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Jazz and tap converge in Rhythm World," 24 July 2019 Through resonance, tone, and unexpected harmonic shifts Bowie and Dudgeon achieved a meta-pop song full of cultural and musical references. Mitch Goodwin, Quartzy, "How David Bowie created “Space Oddity,” the ultimate space anthem," 12 July 2019 Much like one of his primary mentors, tenor sax master George Coleman, the 50-year-old New Yorker combines extraordinary fluency at every tempo with a clear, rounded tone and an expansive harmonic palette. Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News, "Sax man Eric Alexander brings his gorgeous tones to SF Bay Area shows," 18 June 2019 The harmonic language of this 1998 work is uncompromisingly dissonant, orchestrated with bracing, powerful sonorities. Christian Hertzog, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Steven Schick amazes in Roberto Sierra's exuberant percussion concerto," 14 Jan. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Adding to the artificiality of this performance, which swam principally on the fins of Weilerstein’s stunning cello harmonics, was the sense of disconnect from the actual environment, lack of context and occasion. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: La Jolla’s SummerFest has a new artistic director to go with its new concert hall," 5 Aug. 2019 The song’s adventurous orchestration and unsettling harmonics owe much to Dudgeon’s ambition. Mitch Goodwin, Quartzy, "How David Bowie created “Space Oddity,” the ultimate space anthem," 12 July 2019 Successive bright bands at regular intervals above the fundamental represent the harmonics of the speech. Jeff Kao And Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "Methodology: How We Tested an Aggression Detection Algorithm," 25 June 2019 Those tiny loops of string whose harmonics were thought to breathe form into every particle and force known to nature (including elusive gravity) hardly even appear anymore on chalkboards at conferences. Quanta Magazine, "The Strange Second Life of String Theory," 15 Sep. 2016 The fundamental frequency and harmonics are far less well defined, which indicates audio distortion and a much rougher tone to the sound. Jeff Kao And Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "Methodology: How We Tested an Aggression Detection Algorithm," 25 June 2019 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

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

12 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for harmonic

The first known use of harmonic was in 1570

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More Definitions for harmonic



English Language Learners Definition of harmonic

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

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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

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