Definition of unison in US English:



  • 1Simultaneous performance of action or utterance of speech.

    ‘“Yes, sir,” said the girls in unison’
    • ‘As a corollary to their sequestration, the sisters have developed a kind of incantatory and interchangeable speech, often speaking in unison.’
    • ‘They punched the air and shouted in unison to the speeches of their leaders.’
    • ‘When all five participants take in a deep breath, and particularly when that action is performed in unison, the lifting procedure is much easier.’
    • ‘The silver frame, black Enhancer and black fillet work in unison to balance with the colors in the art and add drama to the completed design.’
    • ‘These three management functions must work in unison to ensure consistent direction.’
    • ‘As is common in all combat sports in Thailand, the crowd roared in unison with every punch the local fighter threw, regardless of whether it landed or not.’
    • ‘Soon she heard Dorset's determined footsteps return in unison with another.’
    • ‘His voice echoed in unison with the harsh winds whipping snow in their faces.’
    • ‘Even Clive was asleep by now; snoring in unison with Landon.’
    • ‘Rather than heckling and preventing the speakers from talking, they held up the signs in unison to show their agreement or disagreement.’
    • ‘The two supporting lengths of parallel pipe swerve in unison from the back until the top pipe rears up and curves back over the sails that it also apparently is bracing.’
    • ‘The knocking returned in unison with the whip-like sound.’
    • ‘But seeing them dance and performing in unison, not a step out of place, makes one believe that they can hear the music in their head.’
    • ‘The wrists didn't move much but his students simultaneously snapped skyward in unison.’
    • ‘‘You rock, Reid,’ Ben and Josh said almost in unison, patting him on the back simultaneously.’
    • ‘John smirked knowingly as his compatriots gasped in unison.’
    • ‘However the rousing spectacle of so many dancers performing heroic choreography in unison should not be missed, even if it does not bear repeated viewing.’
    • ‘There was no agreement to lie in unison, or otherwise.’
    • ‘When these elements are working in unison, they can provide maximum performance, efficiency and roof life.’
    • ‘The horse leapt out of the stable doors, kicking them open in unison with the thunder.’
    simultaneously, at the same time, at one and the same time, at once, all at once, at the same moment, together, all together, as one, in concert, in chorus
    View synonyms
  • 2Music
    Coincidence in pitch of sounds or notes.

    ‘the flutes play in unison with the violas’
    • ‘Note that the cymbals are played in unison with four other types of instruments.’
    • ‘The horn section of the RAAF Central Band blow in unison during the first concert of the Tour de Force II Tour.’
    • ‘The bold opening of the Concerto on fortissimo wind in unison brings thrilling attack, leading to a very approachable work built on sharply rhythmic, often angular material.’
    • ‘Let us join in chorus, just this once, harmonised or in unison, for I care not, and state our position for all Infinity to know and comprehend.’
    • ‘Two voices chorused as the sound of two hands hit in perfect unison.’
    1. 2.1 A combination of notes, voices, or instruments at the same pitch or (especially when singing) in octaves.
      ‘good unisons are formed by flutes, oboes, and clarinets’
      • ‘Also, look for any octave doublings or unisons, circling or otherwise marking them between the staves.’
      • ‘With the Scherzo we are back to bare unisons and octaves, though now assertive, but the G with which the music starts makes the key unambiguously clear as C major.’
      • ‘A remarkable passage in unisons and octaves follows which leads to a fugue bristling with cross-rhythms.’
      • ‘In the words of the composer, writing about the second movement, ‘That this does not result in tonal chaos is solely due to the properties of the infinity series - for they ensure that all notes meet on unisons!’’
      • ‘Eventually, slower rhythmic unisons prevail and then a hocketed pattern of single notes emerges.’


  • attributive Performed in unison.

    • ‘The asymmetric rhythms of their unison duet invigorated the music's persistence.’
    • ‘What marks the Copper family tradition as distinctive is that this collective singing was not simply unison singing.’
    • ‘As a child, the only music I experienced was unison hymn singing with no formal leader, accompanied by an enthusiastic piano.’
    • ‘The earliest recorded uses of choral singing are for Christian worship, in particular the unison singing of plainchant.’
    • ‘The word ‘semel’, formerly thought to indicate a return to unison singing after a passage of gymel, is simply an alternative to that term.’
    • ‘He said that Lutherans sing in harmony because they are too modest to sing solos, while also believing that unison singing would make them too worldly.’
    • ‘So the Credo leads from a gently flowing opening to boldly dramatic effects, emphatic in the use of timpani and with the Crucifixus bringing a striking unison passage for tenors and basses.’
    • ‘These were written for unison congregation and keyboard.’
    • ‘Then, presaged by a unison line of sax and trumpet, the rhythm kicks in.’
    • ‘Naharin makes his impact using straight-to-the-heart music and spine-tingling unison phrases from his reckless dancers.’
    • ‘Couples fall into a conga line and unison foxtrots.’
    • ‘Occasionally they pair up for dazzling unison lines, giving the lie to any idea that this is just some after hours jam session.’
    • ‘In No Closer the company of six performed a multitude of unison sections, which helped to create a celebratory scene.’
    • ‘The dynamics and technique of Uehara and the other players were quite astonishing, particularly the unison bass and piano lines on a couple of the tracks.’
    • ‘The C major Trio Op. 87 has a more mysterious air about it, turning in on itself after the confidence of the opening unison theme.’
    • ‘At the end, Zhang's king has been crushed under the weight of his own laws, facing a fearsome, unison chorus of thousands of warriors calling for blood.’
    • ‘The logic - unassailable, really - of using a single typeface family takes us back to unison plainsong.’
    • ‘Most of the time, when we hear ‘Gregorian chant,’ we hear long stretches of unison singing.’
    • ‘The powerful effect of unison movement and the speed with which show steps are performed makes the choreography visually exciting to the audience.’
    • ‘The finale is for full orchestra with unison horns and trumpets rousingly playing Purcell's theme at the end.’


Late Middle English (in unison (sense 2 of the noun)): from Old French, or from late Latin unisonus, from Latin uni- ‘one’ + sonus ‘sound’.