stac·​ca·​to stə-ˈkä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce staccato (audio)
: cut short or apart in performing : disconnected
staccato notes
: marked by short clear-cut playing or singing of tones or chords
a staccato style
: abrupt, disjointed
staccato screams
staccato adverb
staccato noun

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.

Examples of staccato in a Sentence

the staccato blasts of a horn
Recent Examples on the Web She was still exhilarated; her voice was unusually staccato and intense. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 23 Apr. 2024 Part of the holdup (beyond Snapdragon laptop chips' lackluster performance) has been the staccato introduction of important native-running applications for Windows on Arm, leaving some key ones reliant on emulation to work on the platform. John Burek, PCMAG, 26 Mar. 2024 Where Baraka often employs long, Whitmanesque lines, Harris’s are short and staccato. Adam Bradley Tajh Rust, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2023 Gordon’s prose is relatively staccato, with lots of sentence fragments and short paragraphs, and the action moves rapidly, covering the events of just a few days. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2023 See all Example Sentences for staccato 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'staccato.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of staccato was circa 1724


Dictionary Entries Near staccato

Cite this Entry

“Staccato.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


stac·​ca·​to stə-ˈkät-ō How to pronounce staccato (audio)
: cut short so as not to sound connected
staccato notes
: made up of rapid disconnected elements or sounds
staccato blasts of a horn
staccato adverb
staccato noun

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