[ok-tiv, -teyv]
See more synonyms for octave on Thesaurus.com
  1. Music.
    1. a tone on the eighth degree from a given tone.
    2. the interval encompassed by such tones.
    3. the harmonic combination of such tones.
    4. a series of tones, or of keys of an instrument, extending through this interval.
  2. a pipe-organ stop whose pipes give tones an octave above the normal pitch of the keys used.
  3. a series or group of eight.
  4. Also called octet. Prosody.
    1. a group of eight lines of verse, especially the first eight lines of a sonnet in the Italian form.Compare sestet(def 1).
    2. a stanza of eight lines.
  5. the eighth of a series.
  6. Ecclesiastical.
    1. the eighth day from a feast day, counting the feast day as the first.
    2. the period of eight days beginning with a feast day.
  7. one eighth of a pipe of wine.
  8. Fencing. the eighth of eight defensive positions.
  1. pitched an octave higher.

Origin of octave

1300–50; Middle English < Latin octāva eighth part, noun use of feminine of octāvus, equivalent to oct- oct- + -āvus adj. suffix
Related formsoc·ta·val [ok-tey-vuh l, ok-tuh-] /ɒkˈteɪ vəl, ˈɒk tə-/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for octave

note, eight, interval, tone, scale

Examples from the Web for octave

Historical Examples of octave

  • Time in octave––you quitted the blade in a dangerous position.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • The octave above has double the number of vibrations of the lower note.

  • Ah, Octave, why did you not speak of this sooner, if you knew all; but I will now tell you everything.

    Caught In The Net

    Emile Gaboriau

  • The derangement of my system arises entirely from this business of Octave's.

    Caught In The Net

    Emile Gaboriau

  • Early this morning went out shooting with Octave de Mussidan.

    Caught In The Net

    Emile Gaboriau

British Dictionary definitions for octave


    1. the interval between two musical notes one of which has twice the pitch of the other and lies eight notes away from it counting inclusively along the diatonic scale
    2. one of these two notes, esp the one of higher pitch
    3. (as modifier)an octave leap See also perfect (def. 9), diminished (def. 2), interval (def. 5)
  1. prosody a rhythmic group of eight lines of verse
  2. (ˈɒkteɪv)
    1. a feast day and the seven days following
    2. the final day of this period
  3. the eighth of eight basic positions in fencing
  4. any set or series of eight
  1. consisting of eight parts

Word Origin for octave

C14: (originally: eighth day) via Old French from Medieval Latin octāva diēs eighth day (after a festival), from Latin octo eight
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

Word Origin and History for octave

c.1300, utaves (plural, via Anglo-French from popular Old French form oitieve, otaves), reformed in early 15c., from Medieval Latin octava, from Latin octava dies "eighth day," fem. of octavus "eighth," from octo (see eight). Originally "period of eight days after a festival," also "eighth day after a festival" (counting both days, by inclusive reckoning, thus if the festival was on a Sunday, the octaves would be the following Sunday). Verse sense of "stanza of eight lines" is from 1580s; musical sense of "note eight diatonic degrees above (or below) a given note" is first recorded 1650s, from Latin octava (pars) "eighth part." Formerly English eighth was used in this sense (mid-15c.)

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

octave in Culture



An interval between musical notes in which the higher note is six whole tones, or twelve half tones, above the lower. From the standpoint of physics, the higher note has twice the frequency of the lower. Notes that are an octave apart, or a whole number of octaves apart, sound in some ways like the same note and have the same letter for their names.

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.