semitone

play
noun semi·tone \ˈse-mē-ˌtōn, ˈse-ˌmī-, -mi-\

Definition of semitone

  1. :  the tone at a half step; also :  half step

semitonic

play \ˌse-mē-ˈtä-nik, ˌse-ˌmī-, -mi-\ adjective

semitonically

play \-ni-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Did You Know?

A semitone (sometimes called a half tone or a half step) is the distance from a white key to a neighboring black key on the piano keyboard—for example, from G to G-sharp or from E to E-flat. In an octave (from G to the next G above, for instance), there are twelve semitones. Semitones are the smallest intervals that are used intentionally in almost any of the music you'll normally hear. Two semitones equal a whole tone—the distance from G up to A or from E down to D, for example.

First Known Use of semitone

15th century


SEMITONE Defined for English Language Learners

semitone

play
noun

Definition of semitone for English Language Learners

  • music : a difference in sound that is equal to 1/12 of an octave


Learn More about semitone


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up semitone? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

an incorrigible rascal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!