noun or·ches·tra \ˈr-kəs-trə, -ˌkes-\

: a group of musicians who play usually classical music together and who are led by a conductor

the orchestra : a group of seats in a theater that are close to the stage

Full Definition of ORCHESTRA

a :  the circular space used by the chorus in front of the proscenium in an ancient Greek theater
b :  a corresponding semicircular space in a Roman theater used for seating important persons
a :  the space in front of the stage in a modern theater that is used by an orchestra
b :  the forward section of seats on the main floor of a theater
c :  the main floor of a theater
:  a group of musicians including especially string players organized to perform ensemble music — compare band

Examples of ORCHESTRA

  1. He plays violin in the school orchestra.
  2. <the orchestra will be performing a selection of Beethoven pieces tomorrow night>


Latin, from Greek orchēstra, from orcheisthai to dance; perhaps akin to Sanskrit ṛghāyati he trembles, he rages
First Known Use: 1606

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue

Rhymes with ORCHESTRA

ORCHESTRA Defined for Kids


noun or·ches·tra \ˈr-kə-strə\

Definition of ORCHESTRA for Kids

:  a group of musicians who perform instrumental music using mostly stringed instruments
:  the front part of the main floor in a theater
or·ches·tral \r-ˈke-strəl\ adjective

Word History of ORCHESTRA

In ancient Greek plays the chorus danced and sang in a space in front of the stage. The Greek name for this space was orchēstra, which came from the verb orcheisthai, to dance. The English word orchestra came from the Greek word for the space in front of a stage. At first the English word was used to refer to such a space but is now used to mean the front part of the main floor. In today's theaters a group of musicians often sits in the space in front of the stage. Such a group, too, came to be called an orchestra.


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