noun (1)

Definition of forte

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 \ ˈfȯr-​ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio) also  fȯr-​ˈtā or  ˈfȯrt How to pronounce forte (audio) or  ˈfȯr-​tē \ : one's strong point
2 \ ˈfȯrt How to pronounce forte (audio) \ : the part of a sword or foil blade that is between the middle and the hilt and that is the strongest part of the blade


adverb or adjective
for·​te | \ ˈfȯr-ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio) , ˈfȯr-tē \

Definition of forte (Entry 2 of 3)

: loud used as a direction in music violins played the passage forte


noun (2)
for·​te | \ ˈfȯr-ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio) , ˈfȯr-tē \

Definition of forte (Entry 3 of 3)

: a musical tone or passage played loudly

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Synonyms for forte

Synonyms: Noun (1)

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How do you pronounce forte?: Usage Guide

Noun (1)

In forte we have a word derived from French that in its "strong point" sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \ˈfȯr-ˌtā\ and \ˈfȯr-tē\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived forte entry 2. Their recommended pronunciation \ˈfȯrt\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word le fort and would pronounce it more similar to English for. So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English \ˈfȯ-ˌtā\ and \ˈfȯt\ predominate; \ˈfȯr-ˌtā\ and \fȯr-ˈtā\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English.

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Forte derives from the sport of fencing. When English speakers borrowed the word from French in the 17th century, it referred to the strongest part of a sword blade, between the middle and the hilt. It is therefore unsurprising that forte eventually developed an extended metaphorical sense for a person's strong point. (Incidentally, forte has its counterpoint in the word foible, meaning both the weakest part of a sword blade and a person's weak point.) There is some controversy over how to correctly pronounce forte. Common choices in American English are "FOR-tay" and "for-TAY," but many usage commentators recommend rhyming it with fort. In French, it would be written le fort and pronounced more similar to English for. You can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All, however, are standard.

Examples of forte in a Sentence

Noun (1) Emily's particular forte was desserts, and most dinner parties ended with three desserts. — Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClercq, An Antebellum Plantation Household, 1996 Even during Picasso's youthful figurative stages, stark realism was never his forte — Patricia Corbett, Connoisseur, July 1988 Though his forte was never the novel but the novella, he paid the rent by grinding out novel after novel … — Hugh Kenner, A Sinking Island, (1987) 1988

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First Known Use of forte

Noun (1)

circa 1648, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adverb or adjective

circa 1724, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1759, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for forte

Noun (1)

French fort, from fort, adjective, strong

Adverb or adjective and Noun (2)

Italian, from forte strong, from Latin fortis

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Time Traveler for forte

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The first known use of forte was circa 1648

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Dictionary Entries Near forte

Fort Dodge



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Cite this Entry

“Forte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for forte


\ ˈfȯrt How to pronounce forte (audio) , ˈfȯr-ˌtā \

Kids Definition of forte

: something in which a person shows special ability Music is my forte.


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