noun, often capitalized
ka·​pell·​meis·​ter | \ kə-ˈpel-ˌmī-stər How to pronounce kapellmeister (audio) , kä- \

Definition of kapellmeister

: the director of a choir or orchestra

Did you know?

As you may have guessed, Kapellmeister originated as a German word—and in fact, even in English it is often (though not always) used for the director of a German choir. Kapelle once meant "choir" in German, and Meister is the German word for "master." The Latin magister is an ancestor of both Meister and master, as well as of our maestro, meaning "an eminent composer or conductor." Kapelle comes from cappella, the Medieval Latin word for "chapel." As it happens, we also borrowed Kapelle into English, first to refer to the choir or orchestra of a royal or papal chapel, and later to describe any orchestra. Kapellmeister is used somewhat more frequently than Kapelle in current English, though neither word is especially common.

First Known Use of kapellmeister

1838, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kapellmeister

German, from Kapelle choir + Meister master

Learn More About kapellmeister

Time Traveler for kapellmeister

Time Traveler

The first known use of kapellmeister was in 1838

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About kapellmeister

Dictionary Entries Near kapellmeister



kapellmeister music

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for kapellmeister

Cite this Entry

“Kapellmeister.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kapellmeister. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on kapellmeister

Nglish: Translation of kapellmeister for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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