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

  • noun The general course or character of something: synonym: tendency.
  • noun The word, phrase, or subject with which the vehicle of a metaphor is identified, as life in
  • noun The general meaning; the purport or drift.
  • noun The highest natural adult male voice.
  • noun One who sings this part.
  • noun An instrument that sounds within this range.
  • noun A vocal or instrumental part written within this range.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun General, usual, or prevailing course or direction.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A transcript or copy.
  • noun Character; nature.
  • noun In music: The highest variety of the ordinary adult male voice.
  • noun 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.
  • noun An instrument playing a third part; specifically, the viola (which see).
  • noun In medieval music, also, the hold or pause on a final tone of a piece
  • noun the ambitus or compass of a mode
  • noun the repercussion of a mode.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A state of holding on in a continuous course; manner of continuity; constant mode; general tendency; course; career.
  • noun That course of thought which holds on through a discourse; the general drift or course of thought; purport; intent; meaning; understanding.
  • noun Stamp; character; nature.
  • noun (Law) 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A person who sings the tenor, or the instrument that play it.
  • noun different descriptions of paper money, issued at different periods, by the American colonial governments in the last century.

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

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

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

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