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

Definition of pizzicato

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a note or passage played by plucking strings

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

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 Two emotionally charged movements in memory of Dvorak and his daughter resonated in other ways: with throbbing clarinets, a ravishing solo by concertmaster William Preucil, and an otherworldly hushed passage for pizzicato strings. John Petkovic, cleveland.com, "Cleveland International Film Festival: 'Getting Naked' an intimate portrait of burlesque queens," 6 Apr. 2018 Gomyo brought an enormous palette of colors and textures to her performance, from seamless, ethereal sounds in the opening sections to pure, muted sounds, snapping pizzicato sounds and crisp, decisive rhythms. Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra stirs emotions with Berlioz, Prokofiev and more," 3 Mar. 2018 Her style, which finds her switching from bow saws to nimble pizzicato, weaves together lots of moods and dynamics. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Hamtramck Music Fest to showcase 160 acts over 3 days; here are 8 not to miss," 28 Feb. 2018 But there is also comfort: the warmth of the hearth fire, tranquil and legato on the bow; lazy days punctuated only by the pizzicato of ice droplets on the roof. Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman, New York Times, "Letter of Recommendation: Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’," 21 Feb. 2018 The famous pizzicato movement flowed like the wind. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Orchestra gets down to business (at last)," 7 Oct. 2017 How about playing this passage bowed instead of pizzicato? Christian Hertzog, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Young composer Diego Rodriguez shines in debut with Art of Élan," 16 Sep. 2017

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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The first known use of pizzicato was circa 1771

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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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pizzicato

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pizzicato

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