Definitions

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

  • n. Music The lowest female voice or voice part, intermediate in range between soprano and tenor.
  • n. Music A woman having a contralto voice.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The lowest female voice or voice part, higher than tenor and lower than soprano. The terms contralto and alto refer to a similar musical pitch, but among singers, the term contralto is reserved for female singers; the equivalent male form is counter-tenor. Originally the contratenor altus was a high countermelody sung against the tenor or main melody.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The part sung by the highest male or lowest female voices; the alto or counter tenor.
  • n. the voice or singer performing this part.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a contralto, or to the part in music called contralto.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In modern music, the voice intermediate in quality and range between soprano and tenor, having a usual compass of about two octaves upward from the F below middle C; the lowest of the varieties of the female voice.
  • n. A singer with a contralto voice.
  • Pertaining to, or possessed of the quality of, a contralto: as, a contralto voice.

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

  • adj. of or being the lowest female voice
  • n. the lowest female singing voice
  • n. a woman singer having a contralto voice

Etymologies

Italian : contra-, below (from Latin contrā-, contra-) + alto, alto; see alto.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Contraction of contratenor alto, from Latin contratenor altus. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But the title-rôle in the original Italian version was written for, and sung by, Guadagni, an artificial contralto (_contralto musico_).

    Style in Singing

  • Her majestic contralto is heard in concert halls and opera houses around the world and we were lucky today to have her give us a sample with "0 Canada".

    Out of Character

  • Joscelyn Burnett, the famous contralto, is spending a few days in Kensington on her return from her Maritime concert tour.

    Chronicles of Avonlea

  • She has more knowledge of the theatre, more science, taste, and energy, than any of them; but her voice, a soft contralto, is out of use and feeble.

    Life in Mexico, During a Residence of Two Years in That Country

  • She remembered her voice that had been called a contralto, low and deep; and how she used to sing the simple songs she knew.

    The Border Legion

  • The mistake was not as absurd as it may seem, for it is a fact that the voice which is called a contralto, if it is a good and clear and fairly resonant voice, sounds at a distance very much indeed like a 'cello or the lower register of a violin.

    Jason

  • It was a madrigal this time, airy and changing, and sung by four men, one of whom had a beautiful male contralto, which is a rarity even in Italy.

    Stradella

  • One of the recurring themes was the large contingent of "Midwest Mafia Merolini" centering in Iowa, such as contralto Suzanne Hendrix above...

    Meet The Merolini

  • 'Oh, father, father!' she says, kind of contralto, 'can this be true?

    Cabbages and Kings

  • He was an artist through and through, possessing a sweet nor yet an uncultivated voice -- a blend between a low tenor and a high baritone -- I was almost about to write a "contralto," it was so soft and liquid.

    Marse Henry, Complete An Autobiography

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