fer·​ma·​ta | \ fer-ˈmä-tə How to pronounce fermata (audio) \

Definition of fermata

: a prolongation at the discretion of the performer of a musical note, chord, or rest beyond its given time value also : the sign denoting such a prolongation

called also hold

Examples of fermata in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Somehow, an insistent fermata of sirens manages to slink through from the street. Danielle Ofri, The New Yorker, "A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary," 1 Oct. 2020 The mysterious ancient Hebrew word selah is one word for this response, which some believe is a musical notation akin to a fermata. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "Scrolling, Rickrolling, and Trolling," 12 Mar. 2018 The sound of a piano softly tinkles in the background, gradually building (strings are optional now) into a fermata. Cmo Today Staff, WSJ, "CMO Today’s Cranky Holiday Wish List," 22 Dec. 2017

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

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First Known Use of fermata

circa 1859, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fermata

Italian, literally, stop, from fermare to stop, from Latin firmare to make firm

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Time Traveler for fermata

Time Traveler

The first known use of fermata was circa 1859

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Statistics for fermata

Cite this Entry

“Fermata.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fermata. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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