Definition of enharmonic in English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting notes which are the same in pitch (in modern tuning) though bearing different names (e.g. F sharp and G flat or B and C flat)

    ‘double flats and double sharps are replaced by their enharmonic equivalents in harp music’
    • ‘Some 16th-century composers evidently favoured the enharmonic advantages of the system.’
    • ‘You can see that his fondness for modulation by thirds and enharmonic shifts comes from French composers.’
    • ‘He never completely lost his fascination with Wagner, particularly Wagner's harmony, and it certainly comes out here in the many chromatic and enharmonic shifts.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most famous of the op.20 quartets is no.5 in F minor, the sober beauty of whose first movement is lifted into sublime regions with wonderful enharmonic modulations near its close.’
    • ‘Go around the first half of the circle until all seven letters of the alphabet have been used with sharps, or use the enharmonic relationship between F-sharp and G-flat major to make the transition into flat keys.’
    1. 1.1Of or having intervals smaller than a semitone (e.g. between notes such as F sharp and G flat, in systems of tuning which distinguish them).
      • ‘The main purpose of the 1997 restoration was to replace the missing enharmonic tuning system, with its missing pipes and slider mechanism’


Early 17th century (designating ancient Greek music based on a tetrachord divided into two quarter-tones and a major third): via late Latin from Greek enarmonikos, from en- in + harmonia harmony.