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 This 14-line pseudo-sonnet roughly follows the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet with its octave (first eight lines) stating a tension and the sestet (final six lines) including a volta (or turn). New York Times, 5 May 2022 The retelling of this Greek tragedy, developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin, features lyrics loaded with metaphors and aphorisms about love and hope, delivered with a nearly five-octave vocal sprawl and a howling seven-piece band. Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 With a five-octave vocal range and impeccable songwriting and production skills to her credit, Carey's long been asked for advice from up-and-coming musicians. Jason Sheeler, PEOPLE.com, 14 Apr. 2022 His voice rose an octave, and his head slunk slightly forward. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 7 Apr. 2022 The three-time Grammy winner, on the other hand, brought the song up an octave and gave it a harder edge with her signature chesty vocals. Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 10 Feb. 2022 When Jo and Carina (Stefania Spampinato) are called in for a GYN consultation with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), Jo's voice raises an octave, and everything is a little too enthusiastic. Lincee Ray, EW.com, 4 Mar. 2022 His formidable technique was fully displayed in the last two variations, with clean and rapid double-octave runs and finger-stretching keyboard leaps. San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Jan. 2022 As a teenager, his high-octave voice was the subject of teasing by other kids and made Sanford think announcing would never be in the cards. Danielle Lerner, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

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octave flute

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Last Updated

5 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Octave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/octave. Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for octave


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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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