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

As for individual negotiations, agents for superstars need to resist early overtures—as Cousins did—in order to break team precedents on spending and guarantees. Andrew Brandt, SI.com, "How the NFL Has a Softer Salary Cap Than the NBA," 25 June 2019 While the suspension of the exercises, long an irritant to North Korea, represented an overture by Washington, any decision to conduct major military exercises again would signal a further breakdown in diplomacy. Nancy A. Youssef, WSJ, "U.S. Considers Future of Military Exercises as North Korea Talks Stall," 28 Aug. 2018 Recent overtures by the U.S. administration indicating a willingness to concede to the Taliban's long-standing demand for direct talks has increased expectations of progress toward a peaceful end to the protracted violence. Fox News, "Taliban launches 2 days of attacks in Afghanistan, 14 killed," 20 July 2018 Others are mentally ill and/or addicted to alcohol or drugs and refuse overtures by the city to better their plight. J. Harry Jones, sandiegouniontribune.com, "What happened to all the homeless in Escondido's Grape Day Park?," 6 May 2018 Charlotte, who’s charmed the press in the past with her exquisite foreign diplomacy skills, offered more sweet overtures by waving to spectators on her way into the hospital. Cady Lang, Time, "Princess Charlotte and Prince George Have Very On-Brand Reactions to Their New Baby Brother," 23 Apr. 2018 Forget nerves; Mack had just one thought as the overture began. Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post, "The Washington Ballet let Brooklyn Mack go. The popular dancer landed at the Metropolitan Opera House.," 18 June 2019 The old-synthesizer sounds in the overture raise a smile, and there are many nuanced instrumental moments to savor. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Review: ’Mamma Mia’ a crowded, loud party at CT Rep," 10 June 2019 Penalties include taxes on the overture and loss of future draft picks. Nathan Ruiz, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles Day 3 draft tracker: Stanford's Andrew Daschbach selected to start draft's final day," 5 June 2019

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

11 Jul 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

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