Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

orchestra

play
noun or·ches·tra \ˈȯr-kəs-trə, -ˌkes-\

Simple Definition of orchestra

  • : 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

  1. 1 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

  2. 2 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

  3. 3 :  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>



Origin of orchestra

Latin, from Greek orchēstra, from orcheisthai to dance; perhaps akin to Sanskrit ṛghāyati he trembles, he rages


First Known Use: 1606

Rhymes with orchestra



ORCHESTRA Defined for Kids

orchestra

play
noun or·ches·tra \ˈȯr-kə-strə\

Definition of orchestra

  1. 1 :  a group of musicians who perform instrumental music using mostly stringed instruments

  2. 2 :  the front part of the main floor in a theater

or·ches·tral \ȯr-ˈke-strəl\ adjective


History for 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.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up orchestra? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift pince-nez duvet kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ