staccato

play
adjective stac·ca·to \ stə-ˈkä-(ˌ)tō \

Definition of staccato

1 a :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

staccato

adverb

staccato

noun

staccato was our Word of the Day on 06/20/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of staccato in a Sentence

  1. the staccato blasts of a horn

Recent Examples of staccato from the Web

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.

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


STACCATO Defined for English Language Learners

staccato

play
adjective

Definition of staccato for English Language Learners

  • music : short and not sounding connected

  • : sudden and brief


STACCATO Defined for Kids

staccato

play
adjective stac·ca·to \ stə-ˈkä-tō \

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


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a strongly worded attack

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