can·​ti·​le·​na ˌkan-tə-ˈlā-nə How to pronounce cantilena (audio) -ˈlē- How to pronounce cantilena (audio)
: a vocal or instrumental passage of sustained lyricism

Word History


Italian, from Latin, song, from cantus

First Known Use

circa 1740, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cantilena was circa 1740

Dictionary Entries Near cantilena

Cite this Entry

“Cantilena.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on cantilena

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!