a cappella

adverb or adjective a cap·pel·la \ ˌä-kə-ˈpe-lə \
variants: or less commonly a capella
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of a cappella

:without instrumental accompaniment
  • The choir sang the chants a cappella.

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Recent Examples of a cappella from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'a cappella.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

A cappella Has Italian Roots

A cappella arrived in English from Italian sometime around the late-18th century. In Italian, a cappella means "in chapel or choir style." Cappella is the Italian word for "chapel"; the English word chapel is ultimately (if independently) derived from the Medieval Latin word cappella, which is the source of the Italian cappella as well. Scholars once thought all "chapel style" music written before the 1600s was performed a cappella, but modern research has revealed that instruments might have doubled or substituted for some voices back then. Today a cappella describes a purely vocal performance.

Origin and Etymology of a cappella

borrowed from Italian a cappella "in chapel or choir style"


A CAPPELLA Defined for English Language Learners

a cappella

adverb

Definition of a cappella for English Language Learners

  • : without instrumental music



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