Definition of octave in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɒktɪv/


1 Music A series of eight notes occupying the interval between (and including) two notes, one having twice or half the frequency of vibration of the other.
Example sentences
  • These ratios produce the eight notes of an octave in the musical scale corresponding to the white keys on a piano.
  • Trotter uses this music to introduce octaves, accented rhythms, a whole tone scale and a continuous cross-hand pattern.
  • One of the most difficult passages for the violin in the first movement is a melodic minor one-octave scale in fingered octaves.
1.1The interval between the two notes at the extremes of an octave.
Example sentences
  • What is it that makes notes one octave apart fit together so well?
  • I hissed softly, my voice a few octaves higher than it should have been.
  • His voice had changed, dropping several octaves.
1.2Each of the two notes at the extremes of an octave.
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile, strong octave Bs in the bass, along with the lengthy pedals necessary to sustain them, create the tremendous resonance this passage requires.
  • In another, open octaves alternate with chordal homophony.
  • Psychotic disco drums and vivacious octave bass lines introduce us to the Liars new mania.
1.3The two notes at the extremes of an octave sounding together.
Example sentences
  • Lerner conquered the score's thunderous octaves and tone clusters brilliantly.
  • They chant in a deep harmonic, which can be heard sounding three octaves at once during stages in the ritual.
  • The main difficulty of the second section is the pages of interlocking octaves, chords and single notes covering the entire range of the keyboard.
2A group or stanza of eight lines; an octet.
Example sentences
  • The second quatrain of Smith's sonnet alludes to Petrarch's octave.
  • Not only has the poet repeatedly discovered different dramatic structures, she also discovered whole new octaves of tone.
  • The beginning octave of this sonnet fits poorly with the sestet.
3The seventh day after a Church festival.
Example sentences
  • On the watery desert from Pentecost to Christmas, they stay on the Isle of Ailbe from Christmas through the octave of Epiphany.
3.1A period of eight days beginning with the day of a Church festival.
Example sentences
  • They composed new liturgies in his honor and celebrated his death (unique for any local saint) with a full octave of worship.
4 Fencing The last of eight parrying positions.
5British A wine cask holding an eighth of a pipe.


law of octaves


Middle English (in sense 3): via Old French from Latin octava dies 'eighth day'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: oct¦ave

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