cas·​tra·​to ka-ˈsträ-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce castrato (audio)
plural castrati ka-ˈsträ-tē How to pronounce castrato (audio)
: a singer castrated before puberty to preserve the soprano or contralto range of his voice

Examples of castrato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Handel composed this in 1750 for the virtuoso castrato Gaetano Guadagni. Dallas News, 15 Dec. 2022 Handel composed in 1750 for a famous castrato alto. Dallas News, 23 Dec. 2022 The only surviving recordings of a castrato performing solo are from 1904 by Alessandro Moreschi. Jim Sullivan, Discover Magazine, 23 July 2015 Handel wanted the villain Polinesso to be a second castrato, but none was available, so a contralto created the part. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Aug. 2022 The part of Ramiro was originally for a castrato, perforce sung by mezzos these days. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Aug. 2022 The castrato who created the part of Ariodante was a virtuoso, and Handel took advantage of that skill with several astonishing arias. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Aug. 2022 Arianna takes a wife for the new emperor, which tracks musically since Handel wrote Anastasio for a castrato voice that well suits a women. Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2022 Mary of Clopas, a role originally sung by a castrato (an adult male whose boyhood high voice had been preserved by castration), was portrayed by Daniel Bubeck with a muffled, hooty countertenor. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 19 Apr. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'castrato.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Italian, noun derivative from past participle of castrare "to remove the testes of a male," going back to Latin castrāre — more at castrate entry 1

First Known Use

1763, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of castrato was in 1763

Dictionary Entries Near castrato

Cite this Entry

“Castrato.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

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