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

Examples of overture in a Sentence

Noun 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 Only the first ad offers an explicit overture to Korean voters. Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 But ah, that tuneful Jule Styne-Bob Merrill score — not to mention the iconic overture, which still gives chills even if there aren’t dozens of musicians in the pit. Frank Rizzo, Variety, 24 Apr. 2022 The crowd was the largest ever at Lake Eola, the writer declared, effusing over every aspect of the event, from the William Tell overture to the dedicatory speech — which, reading between the lines, was blessedly brief. Orlando Sentinel, 24 Apr. 2022 The aspirations of this performance will be signaled from first notes of the overture. New York Times, 13 Apr. 2022 The start button is under a silly red cover and the entire starting sequence unspools like the overture to La traviata. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, 20 Apr. 2022 In the subterranean world where many of those remaining in the city spend their nights, an overture of snores could be heard at a subway station on the city’s western side. Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2022 The United States has urged North Korea to return to talks without preconditions, but the North has rejected such an overture saying the U.S. must first drop its hostility toward it. NBC News, 3 Apr. 2022 Members seemed worried, even threatened, by his overture. Elizabeth Williamson, Wired, 11 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Overture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overture. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for overture


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

More from Merriam-Webster on overture

Nglish: Translation of overture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about overture


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