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From Middle English overture, from Anglo-Norman, Middle French overture, from Old French overture. Doublet of aperture.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈəʊvətjʊə/, /ˈəʊvətʃ(ʊ)ə/
    • (file)
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈoʊvəɹt͡ʃəɹ/


overture (plural overtures)

  1. (obsolete) An opening; a recess or chamber. [15th–19th c.]
    • c. 1612', George Chapman, A Hymne to Hermes
      the cave's inmost overture
  2. (obsolete) Disclosure; discovery; revelation.
  3. (often in plural) An approach or proposal made to initiate communication, establish a relationship etc. [from 15th c.]
    overture of friendship
    • 1943 May and June, Charles E. Lee, “The Blyth & Tyne Railway”, in Railway Magazine, page 138:
      Shortly afterwards the North Eastern Railway made overtures for the purchase of the Blyth & Tyne system, and the directors of the latter were then disposed to sell, but, in view of their excellent dividend record, stood out for a good price.
    • 2012 April 23, Angelique Chrisafis, “François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election”, in the Guardian[1]:
      Sarkozy gave a defiant speech, going on the offensive and betraying no hint of having been beaten. He styled the result as a "crisis" vote, by a French population which was "suffering". In a clear overture to Le Pen's voters, and the extreme-right motto of loving France, he said: "I call on all French people who put love of their country above partisan considerations, to unite and join me."
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus, published 2010, page 20:
      My mother had no choice; one did not turn down such an overture from the regent.
  4. (Scotland) A motion placed before a legislative body, such as the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. [from 16th c.]
  5. (music) A musical introduction to a piece of music, or a play. [from 17th c.]
    • 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], “A First Night”, in Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 66:
      The overture was almost at a close; and silence being now more effective than any thing that he could urge in favour of the play, Courtenaye went behind the scenes:...


  • (opening of a piece of music): coda

Related terms[edit]



overture (third-person singular simple present overtures, present participle overturing, simple past and past participle overtured)

  1. (intransitive) To make overtures; to approach with a proposal.
    • 2012, K.H. Rubin, H.S. Ross, Peer Relationships and Social Skills in Childhood, page 44:
      For a partner setting a table in a game of “house,” an overturing child might assume the role of the father returning home from work at dinnertime rather than overturing by throwing a ball toward the child and yelling “catch.”


overture (not comparable)

  1. (heraldry, nonstandard) Overt, that is, disclosed.
    • 1887, Edmund Farrer, The Church Heraldry of Norfolk, page 74:
      Crest : A falcon, wings overture.
    • 1894, Henry Gough, James Parker, A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry, page 215:
      It may be with wings close, i.e. closed, or it may be with its wings elevated, or it may be with wings disclosed, i.e. somewhat open, but inverted, and pointing downwards (and this is practically the same as the expression overt, written sometimes overture). [...]
      Argent, an eagle recursant wings overture sable - BACK.
      Argent, an eagle rising, wings overt inverted gules, standing on a baston raguly in bend vert - William PORTER.
    • 1992, Donald R. Mandich, Joseph Anthony Placek, Russian Heraldry and Nobility, Dramco:
      [...] charged with a cross patty gules, and perched thereon a bird contourne reguardant, its wings overture, of the second;  []


Old French[edit]


overt +‎ -ure, from ovrir (to open), or from Vulgar Latin *opertūra, from Latin apertūra.


overture oblique singularf (oblique plural overtures, nominative singular overture, nominative plural overtures)

  1. an opening
    Par l'overture s'en saut hors. (Tristan, Béroul)
    He jumped out through the opening.