Word for the day: TREBLE

September 28, 2007

osh2xbc.JPGIt can be so gratifying filling in the blanks of words you don’t know. Yesterday Mel put the word “treble” in a lyric. I wrote back saying, “don’t you mean ‘triple’?” to which he replied “no, it can mean a group of three things.” I was incredulous and used “triple” instead. There was “treble” meaning the high part of the audio spectrum, and the “treble” as in the treble clef. But I never equated that with the third clef.

Silly me. The picture to the left is a treble hook.

My dictionary gave me the following definition. Clearly I had only known definition two.

treble 1 |ˈtrebəl|

adjective [ attrib. ]
consisting of three parts; threefold : the fish were caught with large treble hooks dragged through the water.
• multiplied or occurring three times : she turned back to make a double and treble check.
three times as much or as many : the tip was at least treble what she would normally have given.

a threefold quantity or thing, in particular
• (in show jumping) a fence consisting of three elements.
• a crochet stitch made with three loops of wool on the hook at a time.
• a drink of liquor of three times the standard measure.

a number or amount that is three times as large as a contrasting or usual number or amount : by virtue of having paid treble, he had a double room to himself.

make or become three times as large or numerous : [ trans. ] rents were doubled and probably trebled | [ intrans. ] his salary has trebled in a couple of years.

ORIGIN Middle English : via Old French from Latin triplus (see triple ).

treble 2

a high-pitched voice, esp. a boy’s singing voice.
• a boy or girl with such a singing voice.
• a part written for a high voice or an instrument of a high pitch.
• [as adj. ] denoting a relatively high-pitched member of a family of similar instruments : a treble viol.
• (also treble bell) the smallest and highest-pitched bell of a set.
• the high-frequency output of an audio system or radio, corresponding to the treble in music.

ORIGIN late Middle English : from treble 1 , because it was the highest part in a three-part contrapuntal composition.

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