Definition of kapellmeister
: the director of a choir or orchestra
kapellmeister was our Word of the Day on 12/14/2016. Hear the podcast!
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.
Origin and Etymology of kapellmeister
German, from Kapelle choir + Meister master
First Known Use: 1838
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