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[kuh n-tral-toh] /kənˈtræl toʊ/ Music.
noun, plural contraltos.
the lowest female voice or voice part, intermediate between soprano and tenor.
the alto, or highest male voice or voice part.
a singer with a contralto voice.
pertaining to the contralto voice or its compass.
Origin of contralto
1720-30; < Italian, equivalent to contr(a) contra-2 + alto alto Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for contralto
  • Her voice is a muscular contralto that she uses the way a jazz singer does, creating hypnotic musical lines.
  • In art it is an oversized violin with a tubby, whiskey-contralto voice.
  • Her accent is strongly foreign and her voice is a contralto.
  • It is rare to find a contralto singer, and true contralto roles are few and far between.
  • He had appeared professionally as a singer and depending on location and dress sang either baritone or contralto.
British Dictionary definitions for contralto


/kənˈtræltəʊ; -ˈtrɑːl-/
noun (pl) -tos, -ti (-tɪ)
the lowest female voice, usually having a range of approximately from F a fifth below middle C to D a ninth above it In the context of a choir often shortened to alto
a singer with such a voice
of or denoting a contralto: the contralto part
Word Origin
C18: from Italian; see contra-, alto
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contralto

"lowest female voice," 1730, from Italian contralto; see contra- "against, opposite" + alto. The part next above the alto.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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contralto in Culture
contralto [(kuhn-tral-toh)]

The lowest range of the female singing voice; alto.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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