stac·​ca·​to | \ stə-ˈkä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce staccato (audio) \

Definition of staccato

1a : cut short or apart in performing : disconnected staccato notes
b : marked by short clear-cut playing or singing of tones or chords a staccato style
2 : abrupt, disjointed staccato screams

Other Words from staccato

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 The next is to try to keep from falling flat on your face as Beal dances from full-speed dribbles to sudden stops, crossing and countering and pump faking in a staccato rhythm. Julia Poe,, 8 Jan. 2022 Court documents tell a staccato story of his childhood and teenage years. Evan Allen,, 30 Dec. 2021 To shoot an arrow the length of more than 20 football fields defies traditional notions of archery, says Martin, beginning a staccato tutorial. Patrick Cooke, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Nov. 2021 The staccato pops of gunfire mixed with the roar of planes taking off. Mark Landler, New York Times, 20 Aug. 2021 Addis Ababa’s rainy season is staccato, with heavy downpours interspersed by sunshine. Tom Simonite, Wired, 8 June 2021 Each activity is slightly sped up, giving it a staccato rhythm, and allowing Benson to fit more of these actions into TikTok’s minute-long format. Sarah Spelling, Vogue, 23 June 2021 At the outset, the keyboards are staccato and spare, with the dancers appearing to move, ghost-like, on the monochromatic screen. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Apr. 2021 During the gliding chorus, Yeek starts with a choppy, staccato delivery before shifting to stretch out gummy syllables; the effect is like coasting towards the bottom of a slope on a bike after a tough uphill slog. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 23 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'staccato.' 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 staccato

circa 1724, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

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The first known use of staccato was circa 1724

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staccato mark

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Staccato.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for staccato



English Language Learners Definition of staccato

: short and not sounding connected
: sudden and brief


stac·​ca·​to | \ stə-ˈkä-tō How to pronounce staccato (audio) \

Kids Definition of staccato

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

More from Merriam-Webster on staccato

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for staccato

Nglish: Translation of staccato for Spanish Speakers


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