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

    • ‘Boccaccio's poem, a pastoral romance in rhymed octaves, has been aptly described as a hymn to nature.’
    • ‘The beginning octave of this sonnet fits poorly with the sestet.’
    • ‘Not only has the poet repeatedly discovered different dramatic structures, she also discovered whole new octaves of tone.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 3The eighth day after a church festival, inclusive of the day of the festival.

    • ‘On the watery desert from Pentecost to Christmas, they stay on the Isle of Ailbe from Christmas through the octave of Epiphany.’
    1. 3.1A 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 standard parrying positions.


Middle English ( octave): via Old French from Latin octava dies eighth day.