[ sem-ee-tohn, sem-ahy- ]
/ ˈsɛm iˌtoʊn, ˈsɛm aɪ- /

noun Music.

a pitch interval halfway between two whole tones.


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Also called half step, half tone.

Origin of semitone

First recorded in 1600–10; semi- + tone


sem·i·ton·ic [sem-ee-ton-ik, sem-ahy-] /ˌsɛm iˈtɒn ɪk, ˌsɛm aɪ-/, sem·i·ton·al [sem-ee-tohn-l, sem-ahy-] /ˌsɛm iˈtoʊn l, ˌsɛm aɪ-/, adjectivesem·i·ton·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for semitone

British Dictionary definitions for semitone

/ (ˈsɛmɪˌtəʊn) /


an interval corresponding to a frequency difference of 100 cents as measured in the system of equal temperament, and denoting the pitch difference between certain adjacent degrees of the diatonic scale (diatonic semitone) or between one note and its sharpened or flattened equivalent (chromatic semitone); minor secondAlso called (US and Canadian): half step Compare whole tone

Derived forms of semitone

semitonic (ˌsɛmɪˈtɒnɪk), adjectivesemitonally, adverb
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