oc·​tave | \ ˈäk-tiv How to pronounce octave (audio) , -təv, -ˌtāv\

Definition of octave

1 : an 8-day period of observances beginning with a festival day
2a : a stanza of eight lines : ottava rima
b : the first eight lines of an Italian sonnet
3a : a musical interval embracing eight diatonic degrees
b : a tone or note at this interval
c : the harmonic combination of two tones an octave apart
d : the whole series of notes, tones, or digitals comprised within this interval and forming the unit of the modern scale
e : an organ stop giving tones an octave above those corresponding to the keys
4 : the interval between two frequencies (as in an electromagnetic spectrum) having a ratio of 2 to 1
5 : a group of eight

Examples of octave in a Sentence

He sang the song an octave lower.

Recent Examples on the Web

Given Holmes's penchant for deceit, perhaps speaking in a lower octave was just another part of her deception. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Is Elizabeth Holmes's Deep Voice Just Another Part of Her Scam?," 18 Mar. 2019 The notes on the 12th fret should be exactly one octave higher than the notes on the corresponding open strings. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 One day, at the top of an octave, the mystery trumpeter added an unexpected flourish. Paul Klenk, New York Times, "‘Godfather Waltz’," 2 July 2018 Her life was its own improvisation, with octave leaps and joyous refrains. Bryan Marquard, BostonGlobe.com, "Rebecca Parris, 66, jazz singer of uncommon range and emotional depth," 19 June 2018 Just as things are about to dissolve into a haze again, a Moog arrives with an synth-pop hook, inviting a pithy, soulful trumpet statement on the way out — bolstered, of course, by an octave pedal and a fleet of acid effects. New York Times, "The Playlist: Prince’s Own ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ and 12 More New Songs," 20 Apr. 2018 But, as dads do, James raised his baritone a few octaves and talked noodles. Candace Buckner, chicagotribune.com, "The graybeard Cavaliers have turned experience into their best weapon against the Celtics," 22 May 2018 His delivery has a sameness from song to song, and there's not going to be a lot of octave-stretching. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland.com, "Chuck Auerbach follows in the footsteps of his Black Keys son with Beachland gig (concert review)," 4 May 2018 Teigen and John Legend‘s daughter Luna Simone, 2 next month, is on track to follow in her dad’s musical footsteps with this white mini baby grand, featuring a two-octave range and standalone bench. Jen Juneau, PEOPLE.com, "Cribs! Strollers! A Piano! 5 Lavish Products Favored by Celebrity Kids and Their Mamas," 22 Mar. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for octave

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin octava, from Latin, feminine of octavus eighth, from octo eight — more at eight

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Statistics for octave

Last Updated

29 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for octave

The first known use of octave was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of octave

music : the difference in sound between the first and eighth note on a musical scale


oc·​tave | \ ˈäk-tiv How to pronounce octave (audio) \

Kids Definition of octave

1 : a space of eight steps between musical notes
2 : a tone or note that is eight steps above or below another note or tone

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More from Merriam-Webster on octave

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with octave

Spanish Central: Translation of octave

Nglish: Translation of octave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of octave for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about octave

Comments on octave

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


an act or instance of returning to life

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