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 But Johnson, whose expletives flow in varying octaves, wants the nation to confront its past and rewire its future. Los Angeles Times, "Cultural Divide: All 77 counties voted for Trump. These musicians are fighting to turn Oklahoma blue," 5 Sep. 2019 Her final declaration of independence is underscored by a key signature that is associated with her and not her father, with bold, fluid ascending lines that span an octave or more. Amy Lorette Damron Kyle, Quartz, "The feminist reboot opera deserves," 20 Dec. 2019 Many have marveled at how convincingly Theron, who also produced the film, transformed into Kelly thanks to subtle prosthetic eye pieces, colored contacts and a deeper octave. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "Charlize Theron on why she put 'personal issues aside' to play Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'," 16 Dec. 2019 Celebration Ringers now boasts five octaves of handbells and seven octaves of hand chimes. cleveland, "Celebration Ringers handbell choir offers free holiday performances in Strongsville, Parma Heights," 27 Nov. 2019 Save for that voice, that lyric soprano with three octaves and its mighty level of duration and shading. A.d. Amorosi, chicagotribune.com, "Album Review: Celine Dion’s ‘Courage’," 15 Nov. 2019 Western ears consider a pitch at double the frequency of a lower pitch to be the same note an octave higher. Susanne Bard, Scientific American, "Musical Note Perception Can Depend on Culture," 25 Sep. 2019 Nation Collective, singer, actress and model Sevana has the octaves and pipes that gives singers like Beyoncé their stripes. Dasun Imanuel, Essence, "The Cool Girls' Guide To Kingston, Jamaica," 10 Oct. 2019 Hannah, who has an impressive four-octave singing voice and honed his vocal skills at the Royal College of Music in London, began working with George after his producer Benny D sent some of his tracks to him. Brianne Tracy, PEOPLE.com, "Jamie Hannah Says He 'Immediately Connected' with Mentor Boy George's Work — and Now Has a New Duet with Him!," 18 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for octave

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for octave

Last Updated

1 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Octave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/octave. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for octave


How to pronounce octave (audio)

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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