from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The interval of eight diatonic degrees between two tones of the same name, the higher of which has twice as many vibrations per second as the lower.
  • noun A tone that is eight diatonic degrees above or below another given tone.
  • noun Two tones eight diatonic degrees apart that are sounded together.
  • noun The consonance that results when two tones eight diatonic degrees apart are sounded.
  • noun A series of tones included within this interval or the keys of an instrument that produce such a series.
  • noun An organ stop that produces tones an octave above those usually produced by the keys played.
  • noun The interval between any two frequencies having a ratio of 2 to 1.
  • noun The eighth day after a feast day, counting the feast day as one.
  • noun The entire period between a feast day and the eighth day following it.
  • noun A group or series of eight.
  • noun A group of eight lines of poetry, especially the first eight lines of a Petrarchan sonnet.
  • noun A poem or stanza containing eight lines.
  • noun Sports A rotating parry in fencing.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To play in octaves.
  • In pianoforte- and harpsichordmaking, to reinforce the tone of a digital by adding a string tuned an octave above the usual tone of the digital.
  • noun In fencing, the eighth guard: point low, hand moving to the right.
  • In music, noting a tone, note, instrument, organ-stop, etc., whose pitch is an octave above the ordinary pitch or any pitch taken for reference: as, the piccolo is an octave flute.
  • noun The eighth day from a festival, the feast-day itself being counted as the first: as, Low Sunday is the octave of Easter. The octave necessarily falls on the same day of the week as the feast from which it is counted.
  • noun The prolongation of a festival till the eighth day inclusive; a period consisting of a feastday and the seven days following: as, St. John the Evangelist's day (December 27th) is within the octave of Christmas. See outas.
  • noun In music: A tone on the eighth diatonic degree above or below a given tone; the next higher or lower replicate of a given tone.
  • noun The interval between any tone and a tone on the eighth degree above or below it.
  • noun The harmonic combination of two tones at the interval thus described.
  • noun In a scale, the eighth tone from the bottom, or, more exactly, the tone with which the repetition of the scale begins; the upper key-note or tonic; the eighth: solmizated do, like the lower key-note.
  • noun In a standard system of tones selected for artistic use, a division or section or group of tones an octave long, the limits of which are fixed by reference to a given or assumed standard tone whose exact pitch may be defined.
  • noun In organ-building, a stop whose pipes give tones an octave above the normal pitch of the digitals used; specifically, such a stop of the diapason variety. Also known as the principal. Also called octave-flute, octavestop.
  • noun Any interval resembling the musical octave in having the vibration-ratio of 1:2.
  • noun Specifically, in versification: A stanza of eight lines; especially, the ottava rima (which see).
  • noun The first two quatrains or eight lines in a sonnet. See sonnet.
  • noun A small cask of wine containing the eighth part of a pipe.
  • Consisting of eight; specifically, consisting of eight lines.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Consisting of eight; eight.
  • noun The eighth day after a church festival, the festival day being included; also, the week following a church festival.
  • noun The eighth tone in the scale; the interval between one and eight of the scale, or any interval of equal length; an interval of five tones and two semitones.
  • noun The whole diatonic scale itself.
  • noun (Poet.) The first two stanzas of a sonnet, consisting of four verses each; a stanza of eight lines.
  • noun (Mus.) See under Double.
  • noun (Mus.) a small flute, the tones of which range an octave higher than those of the German or ordinary flute; -- called also piccolo. See Piccolo.
  • noun A small cask of wine, the eighth part of a pipe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun music An interval of twelve semitones spanning eight degrees of the diatonic scale, representing a doubling or halving in pitch.
  • noun music The pitch an octave higher than a given pitch.
  • noun poetry A poetic stanza consisting of eight lines; usually used as one part of a sonnet.
  • noun fencing The eighth defensive position, with the sword hand held at waist height, and the tip of the sword out straight at knee level.
  • noun Christianity The day that is one week after a feast day in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
  • noun Christianity An eight day period beginning on a feast day in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
  • adjective obsolete Consisting of eight; eight in number.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a feast day and the seven days following it


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, eighth day after a feast day, from Old French, from Medieval Latin octāva (diēs), from Latin, feminine of octāvus, eighth, from octō, eight; see oktō(u) in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin octavus ("eighth").


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  • Dies Irae was sung in octave alternatim by 250 people to create a beauty of enormous power.

    The Awesome Beauty of Silence 2009

  • Note also that an octave is the difference between a harmonic and the adjacent harmonic (the frequency of one octave up is 2x the frequency of the fundamental).

    Coyote Blog » Blog Archive » Pondering Images 2010

  • The same Mass has Dies Irae sung in octave alternation.

    Never Before Heard in North America 2009

  • James I., been moulded into an heroic poem in English octave stanza, or epic blank verse; -- which, however, at that time had not been invented, and which, alas! still remains the sole property of the inventor, as if the Muses had given him an unevadible patent for it.

    Literary Remains, Volume 1 Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1803

  • I call the octave, The Octave and the bowlback, The Bowlback.

    Mandolin Cafe News 2009

  • Please clarify why the terms octave mandolin and mandola seem to be used interchangeably in Europe -- is this simply because they are the same size and scale length?

    Mandolin Cafe News 2009

  • Please clarify why the terms octave mandolin and mandola seem to be used interchangeably in Europe -- is this simply because they are the same size and scale length? toddmakesnoise

    Mandolin Cafe News 2009

  • I call the octave, The Octave and the bowlback, The Bowlback.

    Mandolin Cafe News 2009

  • The _one-lined octave_ may be described as the octave from _middle C_ to the B represented by the third line of the treble staff, and any tone within that octave is referred to as "one-lined."

    Music Notation and Terminology Karl Wilson Gehrkens 1928

  • The Chinese scale is now, as it always has been, one of five notes to the octave, that is to say, our modern major scale with the fourth and seventh omitted.

    Critical and Historical Essays Lectures delivered at Columbia University Edward MacDowell 1884


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  • The octave, containing 7 steps or intervals, is an instance of the so-called "Law of Seven" (see enneagram) in the Sufi/Gurdjieff system of cosmic dynamism. Any process/evolution whatsoever never proceeds in a straight line without some kind of intervention, accidental or willful, at two places in the otherwise unvarying flow. This can be illustrated by the musical octave where there are 2 intervals which are only "half tones" (between mi-fa and ti-do, i.e., where there are no "black keys" on the piano keyboard, between E-F and B-C)compared to the other whole-tone steps (which do have "black keys"). Without these seeming anomalies there would be no need for a "sharps" and "flats" system when playing tunes in differing keys. Suffice it to say that any process winds up becoming its opposite if unchecked in its normal flow because of the Law of Octaves (or Law of Seven). The change of direction at the incommensurate intervals shifts the direction subtly, and with accumulation grossly, making the original purpose unrecognizable: thesis becomes antithesis. In nature, mechanical "shocks" (augmentations in the vulnerable-to-shift intervals) by other, transecting processes, can keep an evolutionary purpose on course toward a particular goal. In the Gurdjieffian system, only conscious, willful effort must be made for an extraordinary evolution of one's being toward greater awareness and understanding of the universe.

    January 22, 2007