piz·​zi·​ca·​to | \ ˌpit-si-ˈkä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce pizzicato (audio) \
plural pizzicati\ ˌpit-​si-​ˈkä-​(ˌ)tē How to pronounce pizzicato (audio) \

Definition of pizzicato

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a note or passage played by plucking strings


adverb or adjective

Definition of pizzicato (Entry 2 of 2)

: by means of plucking instead of bowing used as a direction in music — compare arco

Examples of pizzicato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Its bustle of puffing trumpets and pizzicato strings were cut by entrancing interjections of oboe. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 The pause—punctuated by three widely separated pizzicato chords—feels like a chasm. Geoffrey O’brien, The New York Review of Books, 6 Apr. 2022 The later pizzicato reprise also was a delight, Thomas playing with the orchestra’s dimensionality in exciting ways. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 Bobbing heads dotted the audience through the scherzo, its pizzicato stretch particularly beguiling. Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2022 The wine imagery continues in the music itself — a pizzicato chord signals a cork popping, and further passages depict subsequent tastes of the wine. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Aug. 2021 Korngold puts the strings through their paces, tasking them with an array including churning melodies, extended pizzicato work, a poignant chorale, and an aggressive finale. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, 20 June 2021 This one stands out not just for the energy of its concluding dance, but also the third movement, where Telemann gives the melody to the organ, while the cello picks out the bass line in pizzicato. E.c., The Economist, 21 May 2020 Part animation, part live action — all of it morbid — the film, produced in conjunction with the National Education Association, opens with a two-bit jingle sung over a pizzicato bass. John Hirschauer, National Review, 24 Oct. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of pizzicato


1790, in the meaning defined above

Adverb or adjective

circa 1771, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pizzicato

Adverb or adjective

Italian, past participle of pizzicare to pluck

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The first known use of pizzicato was circa 1771

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Last Updated

26 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pizzicato.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pizzicato. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pizzicato


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