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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Synonyms for overture

Synonyms: Noun

curtain-raiser, preamble, preliminary, prelude, prologue (also prolog)

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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

Before all that, the show starts with an overture, an opportunity to show off its 120+ water jets. Dewayne Bevil, OrlandoSentinel.com, "First look: 'Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration'," 10 July 2018 Those overtures, though, were rejected, Vallas said. Bill Ruthhart, chicagotribune.com, "Vallas: Chicago ‘in big trouble’ under Emanuel’s ‘politically expedient’ City Hall approach," 1 May 2018 The overtures are necessitated as much by politics as sales. Ben Wofford, Glamour, "The NRA's Most Wanted Customer: Women," 28 June 2018 Against the Wall Other overtures to the international community have occurred when the socialists have faced domestic strife and criticism abroad. Andrew Rosati, Bloomberg.com, "Venezuelan Autocrat Maduro Attempts a Public Relations Coup," 13 June 2018 Former NBC News reporter Linda Vester said Tom Brokaw groped her, tried to forcibly kiss her and made inappropriate overtures attempting to have an affair, according to reports published in Variety and the Washington Post. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Ursuline graduate Linda Vester accuses NBC's Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment," 27 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, the former SolarCity, bought by Tesla for $2 billion in 2016, has lost market share over the years to rival installers who are benefitting from the excitement generated by Musk's off-the-grid overtures. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Burning for Tesla Powerwall? Get ready to wait as Musk's solar vision takes a backseat to Model 3," 13 July 2018 Control of resources has consolidated among the largest tech companies developing artificial intelligence, but Yoshua Bengio is among the few in the field who have resisted commercial overtures. Vauhini Vara, Fortune, "Can This Startup Break Big Tech’s Hold on A.I.?," 25 June 2018 His overtures to Mr Urrutia, whose union boasts 120,000 members, will bring more recruits and lure other union bosses. The Economist, "How Andrés Manuel López Obrador will remake Mexico," 23 June 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

17 Oct 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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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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