Definition of a cappella
- The choir sang the chants a cappella.
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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 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.
First Known Use: 1785See Words from the same year
What made you want to look up a cappella? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).