semi·​tone | \ ˈse-mē-ˌtōn How to pronounce semitone (audio) , ˈse-ˌmī-, -mi- \

Definition of semitone

: the tone at a half step also : half step

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Other Words from semitone

semitonic \ ˌse-​mē-​ˈtä-​nik How to pronounce semitonic (audio) , ˌse-​ˌmī-​ , -​mi-​ \ adjective
semitonically \ ˌse-​mē-​ˈtä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce semitonically (audio) , ˌse-​ˌmī-​ , -​mi-​ \ adverb

Get Musical With the Definition of Semitone

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, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for semitone

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

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Cite this Entry

“Semitone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce semitone (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of semitone

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with semitone Encyclopedia article about semitone

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