noun \ˈvī(-ə)l, ˈvī-(ˌ)ōl\

: a musical instrument used in the past that is similar to a violin

Full Definition of VIOL

:  a bowed stringed instrument chiefly of the 16th and 17th centuries made in treble, alto, tenor, and bass sizes and distinguished from members of the violin family especially in having a deep body, a flat back, sloping shoulders, usually six strings, a fretted fingerboard, and a low-arched bridge

Origin of VIOL

Middle English vial, from Anglo-French viele, viole, from Old Occitan viola
First Known Use: 15th century

Rhymes with VIOL


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Bowed stringed instrument of the 16th–18th centuries. The viols are distinguished from the violin family particularly by a fretted fingerboard, sloping shoulders, flat back, six strings, and milder tone. They exist in four sizes: treble, tenor, bass, and double bass (violone). They are played vertically, the body of the instrument being held between the legs or rested on the knee. The viol family appeared in the late 15th century and soon became widely popular and acquired a large repertory. Throughout the Baroque era, the bass viol joined the harpsichord in the basso continuo. The contemporaneous violin family, having a more penetrating tone, gradually displaced the viols in the 18th century.

Variants of VIOL

viol or viola da gamba


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