1 of 2

noun (1)

: violet sense 1a
especially : any of various garden hybrids with solitary white, yellow, or purple often variegated flowers resembling but smaller than typical pansies


2 of 2

noun (2)

vi·​o·​la vē-ˈō-lə How to pronounce viola (audio)
: a musical instrument of the violin family that is intermediate in size and compass between the violin and cello and is tuned a fifth below the violin
violist noun

Examples of viola in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Although ranking is difficult, Kyle’s best instrument is likely the viola. Heide Janssen, Orange County Register, 17 Mar. 2024 Music by the Sea concert at library The Music by the Sea concert series continues with a performance by Logos, featuring violin, viola, cello and piano at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Feb. 2024 Marigolds and snapdragons are also pet-friendly, as are violas, freesia and orchids, the organization adds. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 11 Feb. 2024 Taylor was especially exciting to watch through this second half, locking into charming pizzicato figures with the cello and violas under bright, unfurling violins. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 Both pansies and violas come in a variety of colors ranging from white to blue, red, orange, yellow, and purple. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 14 Feb. 2024 My brother is playing the piano and my mom the viola. Lauren Huff,, 4 May 2023 The San Diego Suzuki School of Music offers violin, viola and cello instruction for students age 4 and older. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Jan. 2024 The quartet — which includes Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker, violins; Lawrence Dutton, viola; and Paul Watkins, cello — will appear together for the very last time Oct. 22 at Lincoln Center in New York City. Jeremy Yudkin,, 11 Sep. 2023

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

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, borrowed from Latin, "violet" — more at violet

Noun (2)

borrowed from Italian, "viola, viol," borrowed from Old Occitan viola, viula "viol" — more at viol

First Known Use

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1786, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of viola was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near viola

Cite this Entry

“Viola.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
vi·​o·​la vī-ˈō-lə How to pronounce viola (audio) vē- How to pronounce viola (audio)
: violet sense 1a
especially : any of various garden plants that have white, yellow, purple, or variously colored flowers and that resemble but are smaller than the related pansies


2 of 2 noun
vi·​o·​la vē-ˈō-lə How to pronounce viola (audio)
: a stringed musical instrument like a violin but slightly larger and lower in pitch

More from Merriam-Webster on viola

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