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

But the Trump administration’s current overture to Mr. Rouhani, and an offer to Iran by President Emmanuel Macron of France of $15 billion in aid, have undercut Mr. Netanyahu’s unremitting posture toward Tehran. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Israeli Leader Says Iran Hid a Nuclear Weapons Site," 9 Sep. 2019 The outcome of that meeting was expected to indicate if the 5-Stars, Parliament’s biggest party, would entertain the Democrats’ overture to counter Salvini. Washington Post, "The Latest: Italy’s president gives parties more time," 22 Aug. 2019 After several overtures to the then-receiver by the Tigers’ defensive coordinator. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "More confident, Noah Igbinoghene vows 'big change’ coming in his play at corner in Year 2," 23 Aug. 2019 Avenatti recalls that Geragos’s overtures to Nike attorneys led to a March 19 meeting at Geragos’s New York office. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "How the Michael Avenatti Case Could Disrupt the Basketball World," 19 Aug. 2019 Drive down California’s musical road This peculiar stretch of road in Lancaster, California, creates a rendition of Rossini’s William Tell overture (used as the theme song for The Lone Ranger). Trevor Cox, National Geographic, "15 musical wonders to see—and hear," 31 July 2019 Beijing on Thursday appeared unmoved by Trump's Twitter overtures. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Trump Ties Hong Kong Protests to China Trade Deal in a Move That Could Backfire," 15 Aug. 2019 Other women spoke of being stalked backstage, touched without permission, and forced to fend off chronic romantic overtures. Los Angeles Times, "Plácido Domingo, a sexual harassment investigation and the threat to his 60-year legacy," 13 Aug. 2019 Thus, London’s latest overtures to Washington are hugely significant for ensuring an orderly Brexit — deal or no deal. Chris Gavin, National Review, "Can the U.S. Help the Post-Brexit U.K.?," 13 Aug. 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

19 Sep 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

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).


to spread over or through

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