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

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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 Moreover, the modern music, with its staccato percussion, jarring shifts, and atonal chords (conducted by Steven Crawford), is perfectly suited to underlie this feeling of unease and disorientation. Nicholas M. Gallagher, National Review, "The Vietnam War at the Kentucky Opera," 23 Nov. 2019 While other Impressionists’ works were characterized by textural, staccato brushstrokes, her art began to approach proto-abstraction. Vogue, "American Impressionist Mary Rogers Williams Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves," 6 Nov. 2019 His shouted instructions punch their way into the late-summer sunshine, staccato bursts whose pugilistic edge seems even heavier thanks to the New York tinge that decades of a peripatetic coaching life cannot rob from his voice. Tara Sullivan,, "Boston’s winning ways drew Bruce Arena, and he has put the Revolution in the conversation," 29 Aug. 2019 Beneath the upbeat tone and staccato sentences is a picture very like the old-fashioned Marxist vision of man under capitalism: an appendage of the machine. Richard Cooke, The New Republic, "The conservative commentariat’s love affair with nootropics," 3 Sep. 2019 And our lives are as meaningless as a single, lonely letter, an s with just a hiss that meant nothing, a p sputtered, a t of staccato disapproval. Susan Dominus, New York Times, "In Love With Language, but Not Necessarily With Each Other," 30 Aug. 2019 A few feet away, the actor playing the free man of color held forth in a brown three-piece suit and halting staccato to a growing crowd. Sarah M. Broom, The New Yorker, "Who Stays Gone, and Who Can Afford to Return," 12 Aug. 2019 With twitching whiskers and staccato-like movements, the nocturnal rodent searches for seeds and grain to store in its cheek pouches. Ben Brazil, Daily Pilot, "The Dana Point Headlands is setting an example for how conservation can be done in urban areas," 27 July 2019 The birds, perhaps vying for territory, were singing, one staccato call blending into another. Karine Aigner, National Geographic, "Songbirds are being snatched from Miami’s forests," 25 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for staccato

Time Traveler

The first known use of staccato was circa 1724

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Staccato.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for staccato


How to pronounce staccato (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of staccato

music : 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on staccato

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with staccato

Spanish Central: Translation of staccato

Nglish: Translation of staccato for Spanish Speakers

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delight or enjoyment

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