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 Forty minutes southeast of here sits Salvation Mountain, a vibrant folk-art installation with religious overtones and pop-culture connotations. Shawnté Salabert, Outside Online, "The Ultimate Joshua Tree National Park Travel Guide," 28 Oct. 2019 While the Pentagon submits nominations for the Medal of Honor, U.S. presidents have traditionally enjoyed complete discretion on the Medal of Freedom, which has taken on political overtones. David Nakamura, courant.com, "Rejected by sports teams, Trump finds a new method to handpick athletes for White House ceremonies," 17 Sep. 2019 What’s more, there are definite Sean McVay overtones in this group, with both LaFleur and Taylor having worked for the 33-year-old Rams wunderkind. Los Angeles Times, "Most of the new NFL coaches have one thing in common — they were once quarterbacks," 2 Sep. 2019 The scandal took on potential criminal overtones on Tuesday when the Puerto Rico Department of Justice confirmed that search warrants had been executed, seizing the cellphones of several people who participated in the chat. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, "Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests," 24 July 2019 Companies have been pairing up to work on self-driving cars for years now, but only recently has that relentless coupling taken on more serious overtones. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Ford-VW alliance expands to include autonomous and electric vehicles," 12 July 2019 Every player gets a different tone from the others, creating this halo of overtones. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Otherworldly Minimalism of Jürg Frey," 29 Oct. 2019 Dunking on them both was a reflexive burst of endorphin-charging smugness, and soon became shorn of any political overtones whatever. Nathaniel Friedman, The New Republic, "Moments Without Truth," 21 Oct. 2019 Through the experiment of vocal timbre and the arrangement of singers, Concinnity strives to maximize overtones and unity of sound to create a harmonious, artful landscape of voices. courant.com, "Community News For The Windham Edition," 15 Nov. 2019

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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Statistics for overtone

Last Updated

21 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Overtone.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overtone. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for overtone


How to pronounce overtone (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on overtone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overtone

Spanish Central: Translation of overtone

Nglish: Translation of overtone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about overtone

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