[ koun-ter-point ]
/ ˈkaʊn tərˌpɔɪnt /


Music. the art of combining melodies.
Music. the texture resulting from the combining of individual melodic lines.
a melody composed to be combined with another melody.
Also called counterpoint rhythm. Prosody. syncopation(def 2).
any element that is juxtaposed and contrasted with another.

verb (used with object)

to emphasize or clarify by contrast or juxtaposition.

Origin of counterpoint

1400–50; late Middle English < Middle French contrepoint, translation of Medieval Latin (cantus) contrāpūnctus literally, (song) pointed or pricked against, referring to notes of an accompaniment written over or under the notes of a plainsong. See counter-, point Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for counterpoint

British Dictionary definitions for counterpoint

/ (ˈkaʊntəˌpɔɪnt) /



(tr) to set in contrast

Other words from counterpoint

Related adjective: contrapuntal

Word Origin for counterpoint

C15: from Old French contrepoint, from contre- counter- + point dot, note in musical notation, that is, an accompaniment set against the notes of a melody
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for counterpoint


The use of two or more melodies at the same time in a piece of music; it was an important part of baroque music. Certain composers, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, have been especially skillful at counterpoint.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.