over·​ture | \ ˈō-vər-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce overture (audio) , 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

Tribune executives made several overtures to Gannett late last year, and Tribune’s chief executive, Justin Dearborn, discussed a potential deal with Gannett Chairman John Jeffry Louis, some of the people said. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Tribune Publishing Recently Tried to Rekindle Merger Talks With Gannett," 16 Jan. 2019 Authorities in other states have made similar overtures. Lindsey Bever, BostonGlobe.com, "Man had police test his meth, saying he wanted to ‘press charges’ against dealer," 14 June 2018 Authorities in other states have made similar overtures. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "A man had police test his meth. He wanted to ‘press charges’ against his dealer, police say.," 14 June 2018 And as for the music, its rambunctious opening overture is almost more famous than the opera itself. Aja Romano, Vox, "Leonard Bernstein gave American music so much more than West Side Story.," 25 Aug. 2018 Copying Snapchat wasn’t just about kneecapping Snapchat, still seen by many as Facebook’s greatest threat — and one that had rejected its overtures, even with billions of dollars attached to them. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "‘Stories’ was Instagram’s smartest move yet," 8 Aug. 2018 About the opponent: Jeff Brohm brought some energy back to the Boilermakers and stayed put for a second year after offseason overtures from a number of programs. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football predictions 2018: Week 9 vs. Purdue," 1 June 2018 But there was one odd aspect to this overture: This particular self-help scheme did not cost anything. Vanessa Grigoriadis, New York Times, "The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment," 30 May 2018 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

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

21 Feb 2019

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 How to pronounce overture (audio) \

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

Comments on overture

What made you want to look up overture? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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