staccato was our Word of the Day on 06/20/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of staccato in a sentence
the staccato blasts of a horn
Did You Know?
English has borrowed a number of words from Italian that instruct on how a piece of music should be played. Examples include "allegro" ("at a brisk lively tempo"), "adagio" ("at a slow tempo"), and "fortissimo" ("very loud"). The instruction "staccato" describes music composed of tones that are short and noncontinuous rather than smoothly flowing together (a style noted by the instruction "legato"). Staccato derives from the past participle of the Italian verb staccare, meaning "to detach," and can now describe anything - not just sounds - made, done, or happening in an abrupt or disjointed way.
Origin and Etymology of staccato
Italian, from past participle of staccare to detach, from s- ex- (from Latin ex-) + attaccare to attack, attach, perhaps from Old French estachier — more at attach
First Known Use: circa 1724
STACCATO Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of staccato for English Language Learners
music : short and not sounding connected
: sudden and brief
STACCATO Defined for Kids
Definition of staccato for Students
1 : cut short so as not to sound connected staccato notes … he … stayed with her, the quiet interrupted only by her occasional staccato breaths. — Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising
2 : played or sung with breaks between notes
Seen and Heard
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