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[fuhn-duh-men-tl] /ˌfʌn dəˈmɛn tl/
serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying:
fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.
of, relating to, or affecting the foundation or basis:
a fundamental revision.
being an original or primary source:
a fundamental idea.
Music. (of a chord) having its root as its lowest note.
a basic principle, rule, law, or the like, that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part:
to master the fundamentals of a trade.
Also called fundamental note, fundamental tone. Music.
  1. the root of a chord.
  2. the generator of a series of harmonics.
Physics. the component of lowest frequency in a composite wave.
Origin of fundamental
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin fundāmentālis of, belonging to a foundation. See fundament, -al1
Related forms
fundamentality, fundamentalness, noun
fundamentally, adverb
nonfundamental, adjective, noun
nonfundamentally, adverb
unfundamental, adjective
unfundamentally, adverb
1. indispensable, primary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fundamental note
Historical Examples
  • Analysis shows that a musical tone consists of a fundamental note and a series of overtones.

  • Thank God that in mankinds makeup theres more than one fundamental note!

    The Record of Currupira Robert Abernathy
  • Of this fundamental note of reality it is that the poet has said, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."

    Creative Unity Rabindranath Tagore
  • All succeeding law is its inevitable corollary, and vibrating in cadence with this fundamental note.

  • They are not separately heard by the ear; they blend with the fundamental note and suffuse it, and alter it.

    Creative Intelligence John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen
  • Therefore the pipe represents a semi-ventral segment when the fundamental note is sounding.

    How it Works Archibald Williams
  • One key lowers the fundamental note of the horn half a tone; the second, a full tone; the third, a tone and a half.

    How it Works Archibald Williams
  • Bells are usually cup-like in shape, and are constructed so as to give one fundamental note when struck.

  • Each resonator corresponds from below upwards to the harmonics of the fundamental note c.

  • Hence, the vibrating string produces two sensations, that of the fundamental note and of its octave.

    General Science Bertha M. Clark
British Dictionary definitions for fundamental note


of, involving, or comprising a foundation; basic
of, involving, or comprising a source; primary
(music) denoting or relating to the principal or lowest note of a harmonic series
of or concerned with the component of lowest frequency in a complex vibration
a principle, law, etc, that serves as the basis of an idea or system
  1. the principal or lowest note of a harmonic series
  2. the bass note of a chord in root position
(physics) Also called fundamental frequency, first harmonic
  1. the component of lowest frequency in a complex vibration
  2. the frequency of this component
Derived Forms
fundamentality, fundamentalness, noun
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 fundamental note



mid-15c., "primary, original, pertaining to a foundation," modeled on Late Latin fundamentalis "of the foundation," from Latin fundamentum "foundation" (see fundament). Fundamentals "primary principles or rules" of anything is from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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