Definition of contralto in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kənˈtraltəʊ/

noun (plural contraltos)

1The lowest female singing voice: she sang in a high contralto
More example sentences
  • Julia Fordham sings in a smoky contralto that can also sweep upward to grab those higher tones when needed.
  • Handel was resolute in his recasting of an opera to suit the current performers, even moving heroines between sopranos and contraltos depending on the available cast and constantly adding new novelties to please the crowd.
  • Brought up within earshot of his aunt, the famed contralto Louise Homer, he wrote naturally for the female voice.
1.1A singer with a contralto voice.
Example sentences
  • One of Britain's best-loved singers, the contralto Kathleen Ferrier, died of cancer at 41.
  • She enjoyed singing lessons, sang as a contralto in St Mary's Anglican Church choir and took part in many local concerts.
  • She stood with four other sopranos, six contraltos, six tenors, and five basses.
1.2A part written for a contralto voice.


Mid 18th century: Italian, from contra- (in the sense 'counter to') + alto. Compare with countertenor.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: con|tralto

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.