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

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 Trump has made overtures to disappointed Sanders fans since April. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "'Not a fighter': Trump taunts 'Crazy Bernie Sanders' while trying to woo his supporters," 20 May 2020 Sysco has made fresh overtures to Metro in recent weeks, after first expressing interest in buying a stake last year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. Eyk Henning, Bloomberg.com, "Sysco Approaches Germany’s Metro About Takeover," 8 May 2020 Some commentators in China have threatened economic punishment if the island continues making diplomatic overtures. Chris Horton, New York Times, "Coronavirus Crisis Offers Taiwan a Chance to Push Back Against China," 22 Apr. 2020 Figures who represented the next generation of the Democratic Party establishment—Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand—all began their campaigns supporting Medicare for All, and all made overtures to the left. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, "Bernie Sanders and the Promised Land," 8 Apr. 2020 Will Harris made 43 tackles and had one sack in six starts as a rookie, but the Lions made overtures at safeties like Michigan native Jeff Heath in free agency. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions trade for New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon," 18 Mar. 2020 Glidden said the Malloy administration made overtures about a labor-management review of state government in concession talks in 2011 and again in 2017. Mark Pazniokas, courant.com, "Who is Josh Geballe? The former IBM executive is looking to transform Connecticut state government ahead of a wave of retirements," 5 Aug. 2019 Bowen's overture was described briefly in an 89-page whistleblower complaint filed this week by Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Aaron C. Davis, Anchorage Daily News, "In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America," 9 May 2020 Trudeau’s initial overtures to the protesters angered some business leaders and Conservatives, some of whom pressed the government to use force to swiftly end the protests. Kevin Orland, Bloomberg.com, "The Fight Over a Gas Pipeline Is Paralyzing Parts of Canada’s Economy," 9 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for overture

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for overture

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Overture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overture. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for overture


How to pronounce overture (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overture

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overture

Spanish Central: Translation of overture

Nglish: Translation of overture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about overture

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