orchestra

noun

or·​ches·​tra ˈȯr-kə-strə How to pronounce orchestra (audio)
-ˌke-
1
a
: the circular space used by the chorus in front of the proscenium in an ancient Greek theater
b
: a corresponding semicircular space in a Roman theater used for seating important persons
2
a
: the space in front of the stage in a modern theater that is used by an orchestra
b
: the forward section of seats on the main floor of a theater
c
: the main floor of a theater
3
: a group of musicians including especially string players organized to perform ensemble music compare band

Examples of orchestra in a Sentence

He plays violin in the school orchestra. the orchestra will be performing a selection of Beethoven pieces tomorrow night
Recent Examples on the Web These receptors form the endocannabinoid system, which acts as conductor for an orchestra of neurotransmitters, turning up or down the volume on sleep, temperature, pain, hunger, learning, and memory. Julia Michie Bruckner, Discover Magazine, 5 Apr. 2024 More generously, the move could be seen as a historic orchestra investing in its future (and attracting new audiences) by embracing young talent. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 2 Apr. 2024 Yoshiki is also writing a symphony, intended for a full orchestra, and recently hosted fellow Asia icon and friend G-Dragon, the leader of K-pop group Bigbang, in his Los Angeles studio. Jeff Benjamin, Variety, 27 Mar. 2024 The orchestra shut down and, like all orchestras, lost plenty of money. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 20 Mar. 2024 Wearing a tweed blazer and a long black skirt — similar to her red carpet look — Eilish sang the emotional lyrics as Finneas played the piano with an orchestra in the background. Carly Thomas, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Mar. 2024 Featuring hometown soloists Once again, the MSO will feature orchestra members as soloists in the coming season. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 22 Mar. 2024 His 17-year tenure as the Los Angeles Philharmonic music director had shown the world the potential wonders available to a 21st century orchestra. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 20 Mar. 2024 The performance will be in seven to 10 capital cities with a orchestra, with a youth element that will explore the Donovan song catalog, which begins with a simple acoustic guitar and develops into a fusion of jazz and classical and chamber orchestra style. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 19 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'orchestra.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin, from Greek orchēstra, from orcheisthai to dance; perhaps akin to Sanskrit ṛghāyati he trembles, he rages

First Known Use

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of orchestra was in 1606

Dictionary Entries Near orchestra

Cite this Entry

“Orchestra.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orchestra. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

orchestra

noun
or·​ches·​tra ˈȯr-kə-strə How to pronounce orchestra (audio)
-ˌkes-trə
1
: the front part of the main floor of a theater
2
: a group of musicians who perform instrumental music using mostly stringed instruments
Etymology

from Latin orchestra "the place in front of the stage where prominent persons sit," from Greek orchēstra "a semicircular area in front of the stage of a theater where the chorus dances," from orcheisthai "to dance"

Word Origin
In front of the ancient Greek stage was a semicircular space where a chorus danced, sang, and commented on the action of the play. The Greek word orchēstra referred to this space. It came from the verb orcheisthai, meaning "to dance." The word was borrowed into Latin, but the Roman orchestra was reserved for the seats of prominent persons, such as senators, instead of for a chorus. When English borrowed the word, it indicated the space occupied by a group of musicians, usually right in front of the stage. It also was used to refer to the group of musicians itself. Later, orchestra came to mean the forward part or all of the main floor of a theater.

More from Merriam-Webster on orchestra

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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