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adverb or adjective

pi·​a·​nis·​si·​mo ˌpē-ə-ˈni-sə-ˌmō How to pronounce pianissimo (audio)
: very softly
used as a direction in music


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plural pianissimi or pianissimos
: a passage played, sung, or spoken very softly

Examples of pianissimo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The score had come to a pianissimo — immediately after the title character, an otherworldly visitor to a divided land, comes to the rescue of Elsa and declares his love for her — and the chorus singers needed to alter their sound to accommodate the acoustics of their hooded costumes. Joshua Barone, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2023 Denève had the orchestra playing on top form, from a pianissimo at the threshold of audibility to thrilling and admirably precise masses of trumpets and trombones. Dallas News, 23 Sep. 2022 While Blanchett’s Lydia is all nerves and naked ambition, Hoss’ performance is pure pianissimo. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Dec. 2022 Rorem’s is a simple and ingenious song — which allows Price to float a high pianissimo, at the end, forever. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 1 Sep. 2021 The air was perfumed, and from somewhere overhead, a melody was playing, pianissimo. Te-Ping Chen, The Atlantic, 11 Dec. 2020 Forget about pianissimo's complexity; only at Alexa's top volume can the notes even be heard. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 18 Feb. 2020 Her fortissimos were what we’d consider mezzo-fortes from most violinists; some pianissimos were shaded down to near inaudibility. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 9 Feb. 2020 The music conveys the plot in a vivid fashion, moving from mysterious pianissimos to quirky, off-balance passages and forceful climaxes. Jessica Rudman, courant.com, 7 Dec. 2019 See More

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

Word History


Adverb or adjective

Italian, from piano softly

First Known Use

Adverb Or Adjective

circa 1710, in the meaning defined above


1781, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pianissimo was circa 1710

Dictionary Entries Near pianissimo

Cite this Entry

“Pianissimo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pianissimo. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


adverb or adjective
: very softly
used as a direction in music
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