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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Consisting of eight; eight.
  • n. The eighth day after a church festival, the festival day being included; also, the week following a church festival.
  • n.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The whole diatonic scale itself.
  • n. The first two stanzas of a sonnet, consisting of four verses each; a stanza of eight lines.
  • n. A small cask of wine, the eighth part of a pipe.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The interval between any tone and a tone on the eighth degree above or below it.
  • n. The harmonic combination of two tones at the interval thus described.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Any interval resembling the musical octave in having the vibration-ratio of 1:2.
  • n. Specifically, in versification: A stanza of eight lines; especially, the ottava rima (which see).
  • n. The first two quatrains or eight lines in a sonnet. See sonnet.
  • n. A small cask of wine containing the eighth part of a pipe.
  • Consisting of eight; specifically, consisting of eight lines.
  • 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.
  • n. 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.

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

  • n. a feast day and the seven days following it
  • n. a musical interval of eight tones
  • n. a rhythmic group of eight lines of verse


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.

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  • Though the round dozen is a complete number in the counting-house, it is not altogether so in the belfry: the octave is the most perfect concord in music, but diminishes by rising to an octave and a half; neither can that dozen well be crowded into the peal.

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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