overtone


overtone

noun

  1. Music. an acoustical frequency that is higher in frequency than the fundamental.
  2. an additional, usually subsidiary and implicit meaning or quality: an aesthetic theory with definite political overtones.

noun

  1. (often plural) additional meaning or nuanceovertones of despair
  2. 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)

n.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.

  1. See under harmonic.

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