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

The inconstant, tympanic thrumming of the fabric is an intonation underlying one shrieking run after another of banshee notes, some of them single tones within the squalling wind that sustain themselves for several seconds before dropping an octave. Barry Lopez, Harper's magazine, "Polar Light," 10 Jan. 2019 This week Roman Catholics mark the octave of Easter, a time when the glory of the Resurrection fills believers with anticipation of good things to come—if not in this life then in the next. WSJ, "Socialism vs. ‘the Person’," 21 Apr. 2019 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

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

21 Jun 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

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