tenor

Think of a tenor as a tone — in music, it's the range between baritone and alto in the human voice or in an instrument such as a tenor saxophone. It also is the "tone" or meaning of a spoken comment.

The meaning of the Latin word tenere, was "to hold to a course." Then the Old French took the word tenour in the 14th Century, giving it the meaning of “sense,” or a general feeling of a comment. But that same century, the original meaning resurfaced when the word entered the musical lexicon as the Italian tenore, or tenor, the name given to the high male voice because that was the voice that carried, or “held on to” the melody.

Primary Meanings of tenor

1.
nadj
the adult male singing voice above baritone
(of a musical instrument) intermediate between alto and baritone or bass
2.
n
a settled or prevailing or habitual course of a person's life
Full Definitions of tenor
1

n the adult male singing voice above baritone

Synonyms:
tenor voice
Type of:
singing voice
the musical quality of the voice while singing

n the pitch range of the highest male voice

Type of:
pitch
the property of sound that varies with variation in the frequency of vibration

n an adult male with a tenor voice

Examples:
show 5 examples...
hide 5 examples...
Enrico Caruso
outstanding Italian operatic tenor (1873-1921)
Placido Domingo
Spanish operatic tenor noted for performances in operas by Verdi and Puccini (born in 1941)
John McCormick
United States operatic tenor (born in Ireland) (1884-1945)
Lauritz Lebrecht Hommel Melchior
United States operatic tenor (born in Denmark) noted for his Wagnerian roles (1890-1973)
Luciano Pavarotti
Italian tenor (born in 1935)
Type of:
singer, vocaliser, vocalist, vocalizer
a person who sings

adj (of a musical instrument) intermediate between alto and baritone or bass

“a tenor sax”
Synonyms:
high, high-pitched
used of sounds and voices; high in pitch or frequency

adj of or close in range to the highest natural adult male voice

tenor voice”
Synonyms:
high, high-pitched
used of sounds and voices; high in pitch or frequency
2

n a settled or prevailing or habitual course of a person's life

“nothing disturbed the even tenor of her ways”
Type of:
direction
a general course along which something has a tendency to develop

n the general meaning or substance of an utterance

“although I disagreed with him I could follow the tenor of his argument”
Synonyms:
strain
Types:
drift, purport
the pervading meaning or tenor
Type of:
meaning, substance
the idea that is intended

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.