- 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.
- (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)
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.
- See under harmonic.