ka·​pell·​meis·​ter kə-ˈpel-ˌmī-stər How to pronounce kapellmeister (audio)
often capitalized
: 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.

Word History


German, from Kapelle choir + Meister master

First Known Use

1838, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kapellmeister was in 1838


Dictionary Entries Near kapellmeister

Cite this Entry

“Kapellmeister.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kapellmeister. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

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