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 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, "Classical music A trio-sonata playlist," 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, "The Needless Trauma of Active-Shooter Drills," 24 Oct. 2019 As the title suggests, pizzicato plucking and outright strumming of the strings plays a large role in the work. cleveland, "CityMusic Cleveland flourishes on first program with new director Amit Peled," 21 Oct. 2019 Kalmar drew some fine turns of phrase in the light-and-lyrical second movement, with deftly expressive pizzicato playing. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Classical reviews: Perlman’s triumph at Ravinia; Grant Park’s disappointing finale," 18 Aug. 2019 For the pizzicato strings in the Scherzo, Dudamel put his right hand in pants pocket and conducted by flicking his head and by facial expressions. Los Angeles Times, "Review: With Yuja Wang and John Adams, the ‘Devil’ is in the details," 26 July 2019 The quartet and Dinnerstein largely reflected or illustrated Penelope’s emotional state and surroundings: gritty turmoil when Odysseus departed for war, fluttering, hopeful pizzicato when Penelope recognized her husband in his guise as a beggar. Zoë Madonna, BostonGlobe.com, "Putting the pieces together in posthumous premiere of André Previn’s ‘Penelope’," 25 July 2019 Varied effects of vibrato, portamento and pizzicato bring different shades of intensity, atmosphere, eloquence: Even a single austere cello line down a few tones can become fraught with significance. New York Times, "Review: Pam Tanowitz’s ‘Four Quartets’ Hits Poetic Heights," 8 July 2018 Oboes and bassoons sounded by themselves, a piccolo duet was accompanied by several violins playing pizzicato, and horns bellowed in their lowest register. Christian Hertzog, sandiegouniontribune.com, "A rare, fiery performance of a Rebel ballet kicks off Mainly Mozart Festival," 10 June 2018

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.

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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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Time Traveler for pizzicato

Time Traveler

The first known use of pizzicato was circa 1771

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Cite this Entry

“Pizzicato.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pizzicato. Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for pizzicato



English Language Learners Definition of pizzicato

used as a direction in music to indicate that notes should be played by plucking the strings of a violin, viola, cello, etc., with the fingers instead of by using a bow

More from Merriam-Webster on pizzicato

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pizzicato

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