Meaning of overtone in English:


Pronunciation /ˈəʊvətəʊn/

See synonyms for overtone

Translate overtone into Spanish


  • 1A musical tone which is a part of the harmonic series above a fundamental note, and may be heard with it.

    ‘This third phase of tonal theory argued in favour of a natural basis for major - minor tonality in the overtones of the harmonic series.’
    • ‘The principle is the same, but the notes become even more complex through the use of harmonic overtones and (again, my guess) unconventional bowing.’
    • ‘The fundamental and its overtones are set into vibration very quickly, and it would take someone with a very keen aural sense to hear all of these tones separately.’
    • ‘The Chamber Symphony from 1967 is definitely a massive leap forward and here one can sense the deep atonal overtones that lie behind the heart of the music.’
    • ‘His interest is in the kind of beat frequencies, harmonics and overtones made by combining tones that differ from each other by only a few hertz, sketching out his ideas using sine waves and oscilloscopes.’
    1. 1.1Physics A component of any oscillation whose frequency is an integral multiple of the fundamental frequency.
      ‘This allows either the crystal's fundamental frequency or its third overtone to be selected.’
      • ‘That is, vowels are created by the first few broad peaks on the amplitude envelope imposed on the overtone spectrum by vocal-tract resonances.’
      • ‘Speculation: presumably, the system has also evolved to transmit information about high frequency overtones.’
      • ‘For instance, the first overtone for any sound is found at 2X the fundamental frequency (an octave above).’
  • 2often overtonesA subtle or subsidiary quality, implication, or connotation.

    ‘the decision may have political overtones’
    • ‘His vibrant paintings offer traditional scenes of Nigerian villages and tribal customs, with only a few subtle political overtones.’
    • ‘The term ‘reactionary force’ has political overtones and historical connotations.’
    • ‘In furthering this project, I suggest, it is critical to establish the play's precise date if we would recuperate political overtones and connotations activated in the earliest productions.’
    • ‘Basically a wry comedy, it has serious overtones and philosophical implications.’
    • ‘With fragrance, the best mix balances flowers with heady scents with those with more subtle fragrant overtones.’
    • ‘Less than a year before the convention, it is hard not to find political overtones in virtually everything the president says and does.’
    • ‘Despite the problems the book had initially faced in finding a publisher in China - purportedly for its political overtones - it had finally received official sanction.’
    • ‘Those Romans had a word for everything and the meanings carried social, emotional and political overtones often as not.’
    • ‘But I don't think it has had big political ramifications or overtones.’
    • ‘More troublingly, it has acquired political overtones.’
    • ‘A few of the songs from his early period hold up remarkably well, usually those without the overt political overtones.’
    • ‘I suggested at the outset that there are theological overtones to these overtly political and historical questions.’
    • ‘To be sure, the question of Irish Home Rule added to the tensions inside Britain, and the suffrage controversy divided Britons on an issue with both political and emotional overtones.’
    • ‘But Beijing made it clear that surveys with noncommercial overtones, such as political opinion polls, are strictly prohibited.’
    • ‘It has both political and sociological overtones.’
    • ‘A challenge to the religious status quo carried strong political overtones, and vice versa.’
    • ‘Though the text of 1946 has obvious political overtones, it is not yet openly polemical.’
    • ‘Although it had some religious overtones, Carnival has become a purely secular event.’
    • ‘Once Roma were level, that incident acquired ominous overtones retrospectively.’
    • ‘Similarly, laws with distinctly racial overtones may have also had gendered meanings.’
    connotation, hidden meaning, secondary meaning, implication, association, undercurrent, undertone, echo, vibrations, hint, suggestion, insinuation, intimation, flavour, colouring, smack, suspicion, feeling, aura, atmosphere, nuance, trace, murmur, touch, vein
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century from over-+ tone, suggested by German Oberton.