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Etymology 1Edit

From counter- +‎ point, Middle French contrepoint.


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counterpoint (countable and uncountable, plural counterpoints)

  1. (music) A melody added to an existing one, especially one added to provide harmony whilst each retains its simultaneous identity; a composition consisting of such contrapuntal melodies.
    • 2009, Roger T. Dean, The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music
      I noticed [] that when a very cheesy synthesized violin sound plays in counterpoint with a real violin, it can quite convincingly seem as if two violins are playing.
  2. Any similar contrasting element in a work of art.
    • 2014, Nancy M. Marion, Willard M. Oliver, Drugs In American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and the Law - p.188
      As counterpoints to the glamorous looks of 1980s models such as Chistie Brinkley and Heidi Klum, heroin chic looks such as Kate Moss were thin to the point of anorectic gauntness.
  3. An opposite point.
    • 1605, Sir Edwin Sandys, Europae Speculum [A Relation of the State of Religion in Europe], in Mary Ellen Henley, Sir Edwin Sandy's Europae Speculum: a Critical Edition (2001)
      [] Priests; who affecting in them selves and their followers a certein Angelical puritie, fell sodainly to the very counterpoint of justifying bestialitie.


counterpoint (third-person singular simple present counterpoints, present participle counterpointing, simple past and past participle counterpointed)

  1. (transitive) to compose or arrange such music

Etymology 2Edit

From Old French contrepointe, a corruption of coultepointe, from Latin culcita puncta, i.e. a stitched pillow or cover. See quilt.


counterpoint (plural counterpoints)

  1. Obsolete form of counterpane.