• (British) IPA: /tɛnə(ɹ)/


  1. (music) A musical range or section higher than bass and lower than alto.
  2. A person, instrument or group that performs in the tenor higher than bass and lower than alto range.
  3. (archaic, music) A musical part or section that holds or performs the main melody, as opposed to the contratenor bassus and contratenor altus, who perform countermelodies.
  4. The lowest tuned in a ring of bells.
  5. Tone, as of a conversation.
  6. (obsolete) duration; continuance; a state of holding on in a continuous course; general tendency; career.
    • 1790, Adam Smith, “Of the Beauty which the Appearance of Utility Bestows upon the Charactes and Actions of Men; […]”, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments; […] In Two Volumes, volume I, 6th edition, London: Printed for A[ndrew] Strahan; and T[homas] Cadell […]; Edinburgh: W[illiam] Creech, and J. Bell & Co., OCLC 723510352 ↗, part IV (Of the Effect of Utility upon the Sentiment of Approbation), page 481 ↗:
      It is the conſciouſneſs of this merited approbation and eſteem which is alone capable of ſupporting the agent in this tenour of conduct.
    • Along the cool sequestered vale of life / They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
  7. (linguistics) The subject in a metaphor to which attributes are ascribed.
  8. (finance) Time to maturity of a bond.
  9. Stamp; character; nature.
    • This success would look like chance, if it were perpetual, and always of the same tenor.
  10. (legal) 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.
  11. That course of thought which holds on through a discourse; the general drift or course of thought; purport; intent; meaning; understanding.
    • c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act IV, scene i]:
      When it [the bond] is paid according to the tenor.
    • Does not the whole tenor of the divine law positively require humility and meekness to all men?
  12. (colloquial, musical instruments) A tenor saxophone.
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Adjective

tenor (not comparable)

  1. Of or pertaining to the tenor part or range.
    He has a tenor voice.
    • 2009, Richard Smith, Can't You Hear Me Calling: The Life of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass, Da Capo Press ISBN 9780786731169
      Sometimes Charlie would sing notes that were more tenor than original melody, forcing Bill to sing a high baritone-style line.
    • 2012, Lily George, Captain of Her Heart, Harlequin ISBN 9781459221239, page 173
      The door swung open, and a masculine voice—a little more tenor than Brookes's bass tones—called, “Brookes, come in. Do you have your colleague with you?”
    • 2015, Michael J. Senger Sr., The Connection, Lulu Press, Inc ISBN 9781257217854
      Kahn was not a big man and he had a voice that was a little more tenor than most preferred.

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