al·​to | \ ˈal-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce alto (audio) , ˈȯl- \
plural altos

Definition of alto

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : the second highest voice part in a 4-part chorus
3 : a member of a family of instruments having a range lower than that of the treble or soprano especially : an alto saxophone



Definition of alto (Entry 2 of 2)

: relating to or having the range or part of an alto

Examples of alto in a Sentence

Noun She sang in her school choir as an alto. Adjective He plays the alto sax.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Requiem soloists also include St. Charles Singers ensemble members Margaret Fox, alto; Bryan Kunstman, tenor; and Jess Koehn, bass. Annie Alleman, Chicago Tribune, 18 Aug. 2022 The soprano loves the tenor, who loves the bass, who loves the alto, who loves the soprano. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 8 Dec. 2021 As the opera's title character, who descends into the underworld in search of beloved Euridice, Willis, who identifies herself as an alto or mezzo-soprano, is singing a role that Monteverdi composed for a male tenor. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 8 June 2022 The alto cumulus clouds that are streaming across San Diego County will absorb and reflect light in a way that will produce a spectacular sunset at 8 p.m. on Tueday, according to the National Weather Service. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 June 2022 Playing alto saxophone with the marching band was a huge part of Christopher Sanfeliz’s time at Gaither High School in Tampa. Orlando Sentinel Staff, Orlando Sentinel, 12 June 2022 So did Carole Rae Woodmansee, an alto who was a few years younger and had sung with the chorale for more than a decade. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2021 McPherson recalls Few musicians spent more time playing in the band of jazz giant Charles Mingus than alto saxophone great Charles McPherson. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Apr. 2022 McDonald picks his alto sax spots wisely in this smooth instrumental from his first solo album Drivers Eyes — and also plays an electric piano that gives the track its restrained but still vibrant mood and flavor. Gary Graff, Billboard, 11 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Lee Konitz, 92, was an alto saxophonist who was an innovative figure in jazz for more than 70 years. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2020 Kristen Dubenion-Smith possesses a lyric-mezzo of uncommon beauty, her flickering vibrato and the amber cast of her tone making something special out of the alto arias. Joe Banno, Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2019 At sunset, a mix of alto cirrus with mare�s tails and cumulus provide a backdrop to pristine Forester Lake at 10, 240 feet, nestled in the Great Western Divide. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 May 2018 And my uncle is an alto saxophonist named Donald Harrison Jr. who is a legendary figure in creative improvised music, or jazz music. Vann R. Newkirk Ii, The Atlantic, 12 Mar. 2020 Her strong alto voice was a good fit for the song, and the montage was only undercut by the ever-tacky clapping caught on the mic for some of the late artists and not others. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 10 Feb. 2020 The alto saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu is also deeply in the mix, often entwined with Mr. Hutchings’s lines. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, 11 Mar. 2020 Tenor Rodrick Dixon, soprano Alfreda Burke and alto Karen Marie Richardson are the soloists. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Detroit Opera House. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, 11 Dec. 2019 They were joined by pianist Michael Carabello and alto saxophonist Konrad Dziemian. Susan Dunne,, 26 Sep. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of alto


1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alto


Italian, literally, high, from Latin altus

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Alto Adige

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for alto


al·​to | \ ˈal-tō How to pronounce alto (audio) \
plural altos

Kids Definition of alto

1 : the lowest female singing voice
2 : the second highest part in harmony that has four parts
3 : a singer or an instrument having an alto range or part

More from Merriam-Webster on alto

Nglish: Translation of alto for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about alto

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