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timbre

[tam-ber, tim-; French tan-bruh] /ˈtæm bər, ˈtɪm-; French ˈtɛ̃ brə/
noun
1.
Acoustics, Phonetics. the characteristic quality of a sound, independent of pitch and loudness, from which its source or manner of production can be inferred. Timbre depends on the relative strengths of the components of different frequencies, which are determined by resonance.
2.
Music. the characteristic quality of sound produced by a particular instrument or voice; tone color.
Origin
1325-1375
1325-75; Middle English tymbre < French: sound (orig. of bell), Middle French: bell, timbrel, drum, Old French: drum < Medieval Greek tímbanon, variant of Greek týmpanon drum
Can be confused
timber, timbre.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for timbre
  • It's the language, not the tone or timbre of your voice, that provides the identifying information.
  • The subtlest reason that pop music is so flavorful to our brains is that it relies so strongly on timbre.
  • It's not the accent so much as the timbre of the voice.
  • Your albums suggest you are a listener who pays special attention to timbre.
  • In the blues, as he shows, the singer's vocal timbre drives the emotional impact of the song as much as the lyrics.
  • It's more the particulars of the combat, or even the emotional timbre of the quests, that forms the games' culture.
  • Her voice had a distinctively warm timbre and her natural vocal inflection was filled with fascinating colors and highlights.
  • Midrange instrumentation is needed to augment the singer's unique timbre.
  • But his voice was thin and wooden in timbre at the outset and never seemed to warm up altogether.
  • The unusual timbre of his mind is immediately apparent.
British Dictionary definitions for timbre

timbre

/ˈtɪmbə; ˈtæmbə; French tɛ̃brə/
noun
1.
(phonetics) the distinctive tone quality differentiating one vowel or sonant from another
2.
(music) tone colour or quality of sound, esp a specific type of tone colour
Word Origin
C19: from French: note of a bell, from Old French: drum, from Medieval Greek timbanon, from Greek tumpanon drum
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 timbre
n.

"characteristic quality of a musical sound," 1849, from French timbre "quality of a sound," earlier "sound of a bell," from Old French, "bell without a clapper," originally "drum," probably via Medieval Greek *timbanon, from Greek tympanon "kettledrum" (see tympanum). Timbre was used in Old French (13c.) and Middle English (14c.) to render Latin tympanum in Ps. 150.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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