noun ten·or \ˈte-nər\

: the highest adult male singing voice; also : a singer who has such a voice

: the general or basic quality or meaning of something

Full Definition of TENOR

a :  the drift of something spoken or written :  purport
b :  an exact copy of a writing :  transcript
c :  the concept, object, or person meant in a metaphor
a :  the melodic line usually forming the cantus firmus in medieval music
b :  the voice part next to the lowest in a 4-part chorus
c :  the highest natural adult male singing voice; also :  a person having this voice
d :  a member of a family of instruments having a range next lower than that of the alto
:  a continuance in a course, movement, or activity
:  habitual condition :  character

Origin of TENOR

Middle English tenour, from Anglo-French, from Latin tenor uninterrupted course, from tenēre to hold — more at thin
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of TENOR

tendency, trend, drift, tenor, current mean movement in a particular direction. tendency implies an inclination sometimes amounting to an impelling force <a general tendency toward inflation>. trend applies to the general direction maintained by a winding or irregular course <the long-term trend of the stock market is upward>. drift may apply to a tendency determined by external forces <the drift of the population away from large cities> or it may apply to an underlying or obscure trend of meaning or discourse <got the drift of her argument>. tenor stresses a clearly perceptible direction and a continuous, undeviating course <the tenor of the times>. current implies a clearly defined but not necessarily unalterable course <an encounter that changed the current of my life>.

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue

Rhymes with TENOR



: having a range that is lower than an alto and higher than a baritone

Full Definition of TENOR

:  relating to or having the range or part of a tenor

First Known Use of TENOR


Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue
TENOR Defined for Kids


noun ten·or \ˈte-nər\

Definition of TENOR for Kids

:  the next to the lowest part in harmony having four parts
:  the highest male singing voice
:  a singer or an instrument having a tenor range or part


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