- Music. an acoustical frequency that is higher in frequency than the fundamental.
- an additional, usually subsidiary and implicit meaning or quality: an aesthetic theory with definite political overtones.
Origin of overtone
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for overtone
When the second overtone is blown (Fig. 136, 3) a third node forms.
The second overtone requires three nodes, as in Fig. 137, 3.
Kenmore, in the light of its past, sounds an overtone of romance.Historic Fredericksburg
John T. Goolrick
“The pineapple ice is the twelfth overtone,” replied Mr. Dubbe.The So-called Human Race
Bert Leston Taylor
Vincent kept silence, pondering every tone and overtone of the remark.The Brimming Cup
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
- (often plural) additional meaning or nuanceovertones of despair
- music acoustics any of the tones, with the exception of the fundamental, that constitute a musical sound and contribute to its quality, each having a frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental frequencySee also harmonic (def. 7), partial (def. 6)
Word Origin and History for overtone
1867, in literal sense, from over + tone (n.); a loan-translation of German Oberton, first used by German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821-1894) as a contraction of Overpartialton "upper partial tone." Figurative sense of "subtle implication" is from 1890, first attested in writings of William James.
- See under harmonic.