Definitions

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

  • noun An instrumental composition intended especially as an introduction to an extended work, such as an opera or oratorio.
  • noun A similar orchestral work intended for independent concert performance.
  • noun An introductory section or part, as of a poem; a prelude.
  • noun An act, offer, or proposal that indicates readiness to undertake a course of action or open a relationship.
  • transitive verb To present as an introduction or proposal.
  • transitive verb To present or make an offer or proposal to.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An opening; an aperture; a hole.
  • noun An open place.
  • noun Opening; disclosure; discovery.
  • noun In music, an orchestral movement properly serving as a prelude or introduction to an extended work, as an opera or oratorio.
  • noun Something offered to open the way to some conclusion; something proposed for acceptance or rejection; a proposal: as, to make overtures of peace.
  • noun Specifically Eccles., in Presbyterian church law, a formal proposal submitted to an ecclesiastical court.
  • noun Synonyms Proposition, etc. See proposal.
  • Eccles., to submit an overture to. See overture, n., 6.

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

  • obsolete An opening or aperture; a recess; a chamber.
  • obsolete Disclosure; discovery; revelation.
  • A proposal; an offer; a proposition formally submitted for consideration, acceptance, or rejection.
  • (Mus.) A composition, for a full orchestra, designed as an introduction to an oratorio, opera, or ballet, or as an independent piece; -- called in the latter case a concert overture.
  • transitive verb To make an overture to.

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

  • noun a tentative suggestion designed to elicit the reactions of others
  • noun orchestral music played at the beginning of an opera or oratorio
  • noun something that serves as a preceding event or introduces what follows

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, opening, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *ōpertūra, alteration (influenced by Latin cōperīre, to cover) of Latin apertūra, from apertus, past participle of aperīre, to open; see wer- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman, Middle French overture, from Old French overture.

Examples

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