Definition of enharmonic in English:



  • 1Music
    Relating to notes that are the same in pitch (in modern tuning) though bearing different names (e.g., F sharp and G flat or B and C flat)

    ‘double flats and double sharps are replaced by their enharmonic equivalents in harp music’
    • ‘Some 16th-century composers evidently favoured the enharmonic advantages of the system.’
    • ‘You can see that his fondness for modulation by thirds and enharmonic shifts comes from French composers.’
    • ‘Go around the first half of the circle until all seven letters of the alphabet have been used with sharps, or use the enharmonic relationship between F-sharp and G-flat major to make the transition into flat keys.’
    • ‘He never completely lost his fascination with Wagner, particularly Wagner's harmony, and it certainly comes out here in the many chromatic and enharmonic shifts.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most famous of the op.20 quartets is no.5 in F minor, the sober beauty of whose first movement is lifted into sublime regions with wonderful enharmonic modulations near its close.’
    1. 1.1Of or having intervals smaller than a semitone (e.g. between notes such as F sharp and G flat, in systems of tuning which distinguish them).
      • ‘The main purpose of the 1997 restoration was to replace the missing enharmonic tuning system, with its missing pipes and slider mechanism’



/ˌenhärˈmänik/ /ˌɛnhɑrˈmɑnɪk/


Early 17th century (designating ancient Greek music based on a tetrachord divided into two quarter-tones and a major third): via late Latin from Greek enarmonikos, from en- ‘in’ + harmonia ‘harmony’.