the course of thought or meaning that runs through something written or spoken; purport; drift.
continuous course, progress, or movement.
Rhetoric. the subject of a metaphor, as “she” in “She is a rose.” Compare vehicle ( def 8 ).
the adult male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto or countertenor.
a part sung by or written for such a voice, especially the next to the lowest part in four-part harmony.
a singer with such a voice.
an instrument corresponding in compass to this voice, especially the viola.
the lowest-toned bell of a peal.
quality, character, or condition.
Music. of, pertaining to, or having the compass of a tenor.

1250–1300; < Medieval Latin, Latin: course, continuity, tone, equivalent to ten(ēre) to hold + -or -or1; replacing Middle English ten(o)ur < Anglo-French < Latin, as above

tenorless, adjective

tender, tenor, tenure.

1. sense, import, content, substance, gist.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To tenors
World English Dictionary
tenor (ˈtɛnə)
1.  music
 a.  the male voice intermediate between alto and baritone, having a range approximately from the B a ninth below middle C to the G a fifth above it
 b.  a singer with such a voice
 c.  a saxophone, horn, recorder, etc, intermediate in compass and size between the alto and baritone or bass
 d.  (as modifier): a tenor sax
2.  general drift of thought; purpose: to follow the tenor of an argument
3.  a.  (in early polyphonic music) the part singing the melody or the cantus firmus
 b.  (in four-part harmony) the second lowest part lying directly above the bass
4.  bell-ringing
 a.  the heaviest and lowest-pitched bell in a ring
 b.  (as modifier): a tenor bell
5.  a settled course of progress
6.  archaic general tendency
7.  finance the time required for a bill of exchange or promissory note to become due for payment
8.  law
 a.  the exact words of a deed, etc, as distinct from their effect
 b.  an exact copy or transcript
[C13 (originally: general meaning or sense): from Old French tenour, from Latin tenor a continuous holding to a course, from tenēre to hold; musical sense via Italian tenore, referring to the voice part that was continuous, that is, to which the melody was assigned]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1300, "general meaning, purpose, drift," from O.Fr. tenour "substance, sense" (13c.), from L. tenorem (nom. tenor) "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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

tenor definition

The highest range of the male singing voice. (Compare baritone and bass.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences for tenors
Both of these roles are supposedly for heavier voices, not lyric tenors.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature