pas·​sa·​ca·​glia ˌpä-sə-ˈkäl-yə How to pronounce passacaglia (audio) ˌpa-sə-ˈkal-yə How to pronounce passacaglia (audio)
: an old Italian or Spanish dance tune
: an instrumental musical composition consisting of variations usually on a ground bass in moderately slow triple time
: an old dance performed to a passacaglia

Examples of passacaglia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In between the driving turbulence of its first movement and an unremittingly grim passacaglia as its final movement was an adaptation of a medieval form—the isorhythmic motet—in which searing gestures alternated with passages of ethereal tranquility. Walter Simmons, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 The grandeur of the passacaglia, the urgency of the toccata and the majesty of the chorale reminded listeners of this work’s value. Howard Reich,, 10 Oct. 2019 The ciaccona — or passacaglia, a term often used interchangeably — typically features variations over a repeating bass, and Bollinger chose her examples well. Jeremy Eichler,, 4 May 2018 The Impromptu is structured like a Baroque passacaglia, with an insistent chorale-like theme put through myriad tinkling, brash and eerie variations. Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 9 Feb. 2018

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

Word History


modification of Spanish pasacalle, from pasar to pass + calle street, from Latin callis path — more at pase

First Known Use

1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of passacaglia was in 1659

Dictionary Entries Near passacaglia

Cite this Entry

“Passacaglia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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