adverb or adjective
pi·​a·​nis·​si·​mo | \ ˌpē-ə-ˈni-sə-ˌmō How to pronounce pianissimo (audio) \

Definition of pianissimo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: very softly used as a direction in music


\ ˌpē-ə-ˈni-sə-(ˌ)mē How to pronounce pianissimo (audio) \
plural pianissimi or pianissimos

Definition of pianissimo (Entry 2 of 2)

: a passage played, sung, or spoken very softly

Examples of pianissimo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Forget about pianissimo's complexity; only at Alexa's top volume can the notes even be heard. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "Streaming Music Doesn't Flow, It Evaporates," 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, "Wonderfully fresh Beethoven from violinist Midori and the Fort Worth Symphony," 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, "Review: Guest conductor, teen prodigy pianist shine in HSO’s ‘Chopin and Franck’ program," 7 Dec. 2019 The crucial thing in terms of looking at the score is this pianissimo for the bottom two staves. Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, "Contemplating a Mystically Charged Two-Hour Piano Epic," 27 Oct. 2017 His sound is sweet, burnished and perfectly controlled, with a gorgeous pianissimo that is feathery but distinct. Paul Hodgins, Orange County Register, "Pacific Symphony celebrates its inner Scots," 3 Feb. 2017

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

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First Known Use of pianissimo

Adverb or adjective

circa 1710, in the meaning defined above


1781, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pianissimo

Adverb or adjective

Italian, from piano softly

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Time Traveler for pianissimo

Time Traveler

The first known use of pianissimo was circa 1710

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Cite this Entry

“Pianissimo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pianissimo. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce pianissimo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pianissimo

music : very softly

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