Definition of an Octet


A noun derived from the prefix "octo-," meaning eight, and influenced by the word "duet," the word "octet" can mean any grouping of eight objects that are similar and used together as a set. However, it often specifically refers to such groupings in relation to music, literature, chemistry and computers.


  • An octet in musical terms often refers to eight singers or musicians who perform together in a complementary fashion. Similarly, octet is also defined as a piece of music specifically written to be performed by eight singers or musicians.


  • In poetry, an octet is another word for octave, which stands for eight consecutive and cohesive lines forming a stanza in a poem, or a poem consisting of only eight lines. Often, octet specifically refers to the first eight of the 14 lines comprising a Petrarchan sonnet.


  • In chemistry, when atoms combine to form molecules, they lose, gain or share electrons. The octet rule refers to the tendency of atoms to combine with other atoms in such a way that each atom possesses or shares eight electrons in its valence shell. Each atom's set of electrons form an octet, a stable shell of eight.


  • In computer terminology, an octet means an eight-bit byte or a storage unit consisting of eight bits. The term was invented to prevent confusion in the computer world over conflicting definitions of the word "byte."

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