tenor


tenor

noun

  1. the course of thought or meaning that runs through something written or spoken; purport; drift.
  2. continuous course, progress, or movement.
  3. Rhetoric. the subject of a metaphor, as “she” in “She is a rose.”Compare vehicle(def 8).
  4. Music.
    1. the adult male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto or countertenor.
    2. a part sung by or written for such a voice, especially the next to the lowest part in four-part harmony.
    3. a singer with such a voice.
    4. an instrument corresponding in compass to this voice, especially the viola.
    5. the lowest-toned bell of a peal.
  5. quality, character, or condition.

adjective

  1. Music. of, relating to, or having the compass of a tenor.

noun

  1. music
    1. the male voice intermediate between alto and baritone, having a range approximately from the B a ninth below middle C to the G a fifth above it
    2. a singer with such a voice
    3. a saxophone, horn, recorder, etc, intermediate in compass and size between the alto and baritone or bass
    4. (as modifier)a tenor sax
  2. general drift of thought; purposeto follow the tenor of an argument
    1. (in early polyphonic music) the part singing the melody or the cantus firmus
    2. (in four-part harmony) the second lowest part lying directly above the bass
  3. bell-ringing
    1. the heaviest and lowest-pitched bell in a ring
    2. (as modifier)a tenor bell
  4. a settled course of progress
  5. archaic general tendency
  6. finance the time required for a bill of exchange or promissory note to become due for payment
  7. law
    1. the exact words of a deed, etc, as distinct from their effect
    2. an exact copy or transcript

n.c.1300, “general meaning, purpose, drift,” from Old French tenour “substance, sense” (13c.), from Latin tenorem (nominative tenor) “contents, course,” originally “a holding on,” from tenere “to hold” (see tenet). The musical sense of “high male voice” is attested from late 14c., because the sustained melody (canto fermo) was carried by the tenor’s part. The highest range of the male singing voice. (Compare baritone and bass.)

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