c.1300, "general meaning, purpose, drift," from O.Fr. tenour
"substance, sense" (13c.), from L. tenorem
) "contents, course," originally "a holding on," from tenere
"to hold" (see tenet
). The musical sense of "high male voice" is attested from c.1388, because the sustained melody (canto fermo
) was carried by the tenor's part.