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

Put aside the clumsy feminist overtures for a moment. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Empty Empowerment of The Handmaid’s Tale," 5 June 2019 Private sector analysts saw Xi’s speech as an overture to help end the biggest trade dispute since World War II. BostonGlobe.com, "China appears to offer United States trade concessions," 11 Apr. 2018 If the overtures to Kennedy from the White House were subtle, the warnings from its allies were blunt. Adam Liptak And Maggie Haberman, BostonGlobe.com, "How the White House quietly worked to get Justice Kennedy to move aside," 29 June 2018 The overture is especially important because Germany is Mr. Macron’s most essential ally in pursuing a new course for the EU. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Charlemagne to the Rescue," 22 June 2018 The tuneful score adds to the fun (though strangely for a children’s show, the overture is long enough to come from the golden age of Rodgers & Hammerstein). Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Review: Buggin' Out: A Small Musical - Fringe 2018," 14 May 2018 But the overtures from Veselnitskaya and Agalarov are the first indication that the same Russians were still pushing to change the sanctions law after Trump was elected. Jeremy Herb, CNN, "Russians reached out to Trump team about Magnitsky Act sanctions after election, Democrats say," 27 Apr. 2018 Critics say Kim’s overture is an attempt to use improved ties with South Korea to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions on North Korea while buying time to perfect his nuclear weapons program. Time, "North Korea Is Sending 230 Cheerleaders to the 2018 Winter Olympics," 17 Jan. 2018 North Korea’s overtures are tactical, reckons Robert Kelly, of Pusan National University in South Korea. The Economist, "Games amid the frostThe two Koreas are talking again, but don’t expect much progress," 11 Jan. 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

13 Jun 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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showing courage and determination

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