Definition of octave in English:



  • 1Music
    A series of eight notes occupying the interval between (and including) two notes, one having twice or half the frequency of vibration of the other.

    • ‘One of the most difficult passages for the violin in the first movement is a melodic minor one-octave scale in fingered octaves.’
    • ‘These ratios produce the eight notes of an octave in the musical scale corresponding to the white keys on a piano.’
    • ‘Trotter uses this music to introduce octaves, accented rhythms, a whole tone scale and a continuous cross-hand pattern.’
    range, area, region, reaches, sweep
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The interval between the two notes at the extremes of an octave.
      • ‘Rocky sung this quietly, and an octave lower than it was supposed to be.’
      • ‘I hissed softly, my voice a few octaves higher than it should have been.’
      • ‘What is it that makes notes one octave apart fit together so well?’
      • ‘His voice had changed, dropping several octaves.’
      • ‘He sang an octave higher than his master, to better suit his tenor.’
    2. 1.2 Each of the two notes at the extremes of an octave.
      • ‘Meanwhile, strong octave Bs in the bass, along with the lengthy pedals necessary to sustain them, create the tremendous resonance this passage requires.’
      • ‘Psychotic disco drums and vivacious octave bass lines introduce us to the Liars new mania.’
      • ‘In another, open octaves alternate with chordal homophony.’
    3. 1.3 The two notes at the extremes of an octave sounding together.
      • ‘Lerner conquered the score's thunderous octaves and tone clusters brilliantly.’
      • ‘Only one, ‘I Love to Tell the Story,’ has the melody in octaves in the bass.’
      • ‘They chant in a deep harmonic, which can be heard sounding three octaves at once during stages in the ritual.’
      • ‘The main difficulty of the second section is the pages of interlocking octaves, chords and single notes covering the entire range of the keyboard.’
      • ‘The coda makes use of octaves and large chords, which may cause difficulty for smaller hands.’
  • 2A group or stanza of eight lines; an octet.

    • ‘In ‘Tea,’ a fine Italian sonnet, she finishes the octave with ‘we learn nothing of ours is ours to keep.’’
    • ‘The second quatrain of Smith's sonnet alludes to Petrarch's octave.’
    • ‘The beginning octave of this sonnet fits poorly with the sestet.’
    • ‘Boccaccio's poem, a pastoral romance in rhymed octaves, has been aptly described as a hymn to nature.’
    • ‘Not only has the poet repeatedly discovered different dramatic structures, she also discovered whole new octaves of tone.’
  • 3The seventh day after a Church festival.

    • ‘On the watery desert from Pentecost to Christmas, they stay on the Isle of Ailbe from Christmas through the octave of Epiphany.’
    1. 3.1 A period of eight days beginning with the day of a Church festival.
      • ‘They composed new liturgies in his honor and celebrated his death (unique for any local saint) with a full octave of worship.’
  • 4Fencing
    The last of eight parrying positions.

  • 5British A wine cask holding an eighth of a pipe.


Middle English (in octave (sense 3)): via Old French from Latin octava dies ‘eighth day’.