over·​tone | \ ˈō-vər-ˌtōn How to pronounce overtone (audio) \

Definition of overtone

1a : one of the higher tones produced simultaneously with the fundamental and that with the fundamental comprise a complex musical tone : harmonic sense 1a
2 : the color of the light reflected (as by a paint)
3 : a secondary effect, quality, or meaning : suggestion, connotation

Examples of overtone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, the Moon enters beautiful Taurus, adding an earthy and sensual overtone to our demeanor. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, "Daily horoscope for September 6, 2020," 6 Sep. 2020 The sharp mustard overtone is the perfect foil for the creamy and sweet-sour combination that comes from a mixture of mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. cleveland, "Try the real recipes for these famous restaurant foods," 15 June 2020 Cleverly written with poetic overtones, the narrative provides engaging twists and turns. Monitor Reviewers, The Christian Science Monitor, "The 10 best books of May to enjoy in the fresh air," 27 May 2020 For the very sound of the vibraphone, with its ringing tones and overtones, beguiles and delights the ear, particularly when played as fluidly as Tukes. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Jazz review: Chicagoan Thaddeus Tukes celebrates ‘Let’s Vibe’ at Green Mill," 16 Oct. 2019 The same can be said for chimichurri wings that accented the flames with herbal overtones of cilantro. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Review: Cullum’s Attagirl a chicken dive with the heart of a craft-driven cafe on San Antonio’s St. Mary’s strip," 27 Feb. 2020 The disorder has a long history of diagnoses that ring with overtones of accusation. Eric Boodman, STAT, "The vodka trial: In search of a treatment for vocal disorders, a researcher puts patient anecdotes to the test," 10 Feb. 2020 For many of that generation, such a roundup carries chilling historical overtones, and in some cases personal ones as well. Noga Tarnopolsky, Los Angeles Times, "Ultra-Orthodox Jews hit disproportionately hard by Israel’s coronavirus outbreak," 7 Apr. 2020 The introduction of valves in horns and trumpets meant that instruments that had previously been limited to notes of the overtone series could now roam across the whole chromatic spectrum, adding oomph wherever a composer desired it. New York Times, "Loud, Louder, Loudest: How Classical Music Started to Roar," 17 Apr. 2020

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

1867, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for overtone

Time Traveler

The first known use of overtone was in 1867

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Cite this Entry

“Overtone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overtone. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for overtone



English Language Learners Definition of overtone

: an idea or quality that is suggested without being said directly
: a very small amount of something
music : a higher tone that is part of the sound of a musical note


over·​tone | \ ˈō-vər-ˌtōn How to pronounce overtone (audio) \

Medical Definition of overtone

: one of the higher tones produced simultaneously with the fundamental and that with the fundamental comprise a complex musical tone

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