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

  • n. A continuous, unwavering course. See Synonyms at tendency.
  • n. The word, phrase, or subject with which the vehicle of a metaphor is identified, as life in "Life's but a walking shadow” ( Shakespeare).
  • n. The course of thought or argument running through something written or spoken.
  • n. General sense; purport.
  • n. Law The exact meaning or actual wording of a document as distinct from its effect.
  • n. Law An exact copy of a document.
  • n. Music The highest natural adult male voice.
  • n. Music One who sings this part.
  • n. Music An instrument that sounds within this range.
  • n. Music A vocal or instrumental part written within this range.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Musical part or section that holds or performs the main melody, as opposed to the contratenor bassus and contratenor altus, who perform countermelodies.
  • n. duration; continuance.
  • n. Musical range or section higher than bass and lower than alto.
  • n. A person, instrument, or group that performs in the tenor (higher than bass and lower than alto) range.
  • n. Tone, as of a conversation.
  • n. The subject in a metaphor to which attributes are ascribed.
  • n. Time-to-maturity of a bond.
  • adj. of or pertaining to the tenor part or range

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A state of holding on in a continuous course; manner of continuity; constant mode; general tendency; course; career.
  • n. That course of thought which holds on through a discourse; the general drift or course of thought; purport; intent; meaning; understanding.
  • n. Stamp; character; nature.
  • n. An exact copy of a writing, set forth in the words and figures of it. It differs from purport, which is only the substance or general import of the instrument.
  • n.
  • n. The higher of the two kinds of voices usually belonging to adult males; hence, the part in the harmony adapted to this voice; the second of the four parts in the scale of sounds, reckoning from the base, and originally the air, to which the other parts were auxillary.
  • n. A person who sings the tenor, or the instrument that play it.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. General, usual, or prevailing course or direction.
  • n. General course or drift of a thought, saying, discourse, or the like; that course of thought or meaning which holds on or runs through a whole discourse, treatise, statute, or the like; general purport; substance.
  • n. In law: True intent and meaning; purport and effect: as, the tenor of a deed or instrument of any kind is its purport and effect, but not its actual words.
  • n. A transcript or copy.
  • n. Character; nature.
  • n. In music: The highest variety of the ordinary adult male voice.
  • n. A singer with such a voice, or a voice-part intended for or sung by such a voice. In ordinary part-writing the tenor is the third voice-part, intermediate between the alto and the bass.
  • n. An instrument playing a third part; specifically, the viola (which see).
  • n. In medieval music, also, the hold or pause on a final tone of a piece
  • n. the ambitus or compass of a mode
  • n. the repercussion of a mode.
  • n. In Massachusetts, a new form of such currency, issued in accordance with an act of the year 1741 and subsequent years, and differing but slightly from that above described. The notes of this emission received the name of new tenor, which caused the preceding series, which had hitherto borne that name, to be thenceforth called middle tenor.
  • In music, of or pertaining to the tenor; adapted for singing or playing the tenor: as, a tenor voice; a tenor instrument; a tenor part.

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

  • n. the pitch range of the highest male voice
  • n. a settled or prevailing or habitual course of a person's life
  • n. the adult male singing voice above baritone
  • n. an adult male with a tenor voice
  • adj. of or close in range to the highest natural adult male voice
  • adj. (of a musical instrument) intermediate between alto and baritone or bass
  • n. the general meaning or substance of an utterance


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

Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin, uninterrupted course, from tenēre, to hold, continue; see ten- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin tenor ("holder"), from teneō ("hold"). In music, from the notion of the one who holds the melody as opposed to the countertenor.



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  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer pg. 252

    "The Old Qiul began in a thin tenor voice."

    December 2, 2010