orchestra

noun or·ches·tra \ ˈȯr-kə-strə , -ˌke- \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of orchestra

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

  1. He plays violin in the school orchestra.

  2. the orchestra will be performing a selection of Beethoven pieces tomorrow night

Recent Examples of orchestra from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'orchestra.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of orchestra

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



ORCHESTRA Defined for English Language Learners

orchestra

noun

Definition of orchestra for English Language Learners

  • : a group of musicians who play usually classical music together and who are led by a conductor

  • the orchestra : a group of seats in a theater that are close to the stage


ORCHESTRA Defined for Kids

orchestra

noun or·ches·tra \ ˈȯr-kə-strə \

Definition of orchestra for Students

1 : a group of musicians who perform instrumental music using mostly stringed instruments
2 : the front part of the main floor in a theater

orchestral

\ȯr-ˈke-strəl\ adjective

History for orchestra

In ancient Greek plays the chorus danced and sang in a space in front of the stage. The Greek name for this space was orchēstra, which came from the verb orcheisthai, “to dance.” The English word orchestra came from the Greek word for the space in front of a stage. At first the English word was used to refer to such a space but is now used to mean “the front part of the main floor.” In today's theaters a group of musicians often sits in the space in front of the stage. Such a group, too, came to be called an orchestra.



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