over·​ture | \ ˈō-vər-ˌchu̇r, ˈō-və-, -chər, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌtu̇r\

Definition of overture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an initiative toward agreement or action : proposal
b : something introductory : prelude
2a : the orchestral introduction to a musical dramatic work
b : an orchestral concert piece written especially as a single movement in sonata form


overtured; overturing

Definition of overture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to put forward as an overture
2 : to make or present an overture to

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Examples of overture in a Sentence


The government has made a significant peace overture by opening the door to negotiation. the parade down Main Street served as the overture for a weekend of fun and festivities

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Throughout the campaign, a number of people made overtures to Trump campaign aides on Torshin's behalf. Sara Murray, CNN, "Exclusive: NRA gathers documents amid scrutiny over ties to Kremlin-linked banker," 27 Apr. 2018 McDaniel also asked Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to appoint him to temporarily succeed Cochran until the special election is held - an overture the governor swiftly rejected. Washington Post, "Finance complaint filed in Mississippi US Senate campaign," 26 Mar. 2018 But hopes for détente have been tempered by deep skepticism over the North’s sudden overtures. Choe Sang-hun, New York Times, "South Korean Leader to Meet Kim Jong-un’s Sister in Highest-Level Contact in Years," 8 Feb. 2018 Critics argue that the growing U.S. isolation is risky at a time when Trump is making diplomatic overtures with North Korea and in the Middle East and could use the support of allies. chicagotribune.com, "Trump says Russia should be allowed in G-7," 8 June 2018 Minutes of the committee's April 13 meeting make no mention of Van Vrancken's coolness to Owens' overture. Drew Broach, NOLA.com, "Put the Robert E. Lee statue in Metairie? The idea was considered, then set aside," 19 May 2018 The overture comes as Trump and the Iranians have been escalating their rhetoric after Trump's May withdrawal from the landmark nuclear accord. Jill Colvin, Fox News, "Threats aside, Trump says he's willing to meet with Iranians," 31 July 2018 Fueling those concerns are a federal investigation of the election interference, President Trump’s overtures to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and repeated presidential questioning of U.S. intelligence assessments about the election hacking. Ian Talley And Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "U.S. Widens Russia Sanctions Amid Calls They Don’t Go Far Enough," 21 Aug. 2018 The overture comes as Trump and the Iranians have been escalating their rhetoric after Trump’s May withdrawal from the landmark nuclear accord. Jill Colvin, The Seattle Times, "Threats aside, Trump says he’s willing to meet with Iranians," 30 July 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1655, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for overture


Middle English, literally, opening, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *opertura, alteration of Latin apertura — more at aperture

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Statistics for overture

Last Updated

26 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overture

The first known use of overture was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for overture



English Language Learners Definition of overture

: a piece of music played at the start of an opera, a musical play, etc.

: something that is offered or suggested with the hope that it will start a relationship, lead to an agreement, etc.

: the first part of an event : the beginning of something


over·​ture | \ ˈō-vər-ˌchu̇r \

Kids Definition of overture

1 : something first offered or suggested with the hope of reaching an agreement Old enemies made overtures of peace.
2 : a piece of music played at the beginning of an opera or musical play

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More from Merriam-Webster on overture

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overture

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overture

Spanish Central: Translation of overture

Nglish: Translation of overture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about overture

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