vir·​tu·​o·​so | \ ˌvər-chü-ˈō-(ˌ)sō How to pronounce virtuoso (audio) , -(ˌ)zō \
plural virtuosos or virtuosi\ ˌvər-​chü-​ˈō-​(ˌ)sē How to pronounce virtuosi (audio) , -​(ˌ)zē \

Definition of virtuoso

1 : one who excels in the technique of an art especially : a highly skilled musical performer (as on the violin)
2 : an experimenter or investigator especially in the arts and sciences : savant
3 : one skilled in or having a taste for the fine arts
4 : a person who has great skill at some endeavor a computer virtuoso

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Other Words from virtuoso

virtuosic \ ˌvər-​chü-​ˈō-​sik How to pronounce virtuosic (audio) , -​zik \ adjective
virtuoso adjective

Did You Know?

English speakers borrowed the Italian noun virtuoso in the 1600s. It comes in turn from the Italian adjective virtuoso, which means both "virtuous" and "skilled." In English, virtuoso can be pluralized as either virtuosos or virtuosi, and it is often used attributively ("a virtuoso performer"). The first virtuosos were individuals of substantial knowledge and learning ("great wits," to quote one 17th-century clergyman). The word was then transferred to those skilled in the fine arts, and by the 18th century it had acquired its specific sense applied to musicians. In the 20th century, English speakers broadened virtuoso again to apply to a person skilled in any pursuit.

Examples of virtuoso in a Sentence

He's a real virtuoso in the kitchen.
Recent Examples on the Web Penderecki wrote for virtuosos and friends like violinists Isaak Stern and Anne-Sophie Mutter and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Monika Scislowska, USA TODAY, "Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, whose music was used in 'The Shining,' dies at 86," 30 Mar. 2020 Weill’s Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, composed in 1924, is an exercise in reticence and ambiguity, shorn of Romantic excess and virtuoso display. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The L.A. Philharmonic Revisits the Weimar Republic," 9 Mar. 2020 As with so many virtuoso musicians a level below stardom, much of his work was unattributed. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Buell Neidlinger, Acclaimed Genre-Crossing Bassist, Dies at 82," 25 Mar. 2018 But the whispering virtuoso is still working to normalize ASMR, even pushing for its recognition as a complementary therapy. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "How ASMR Can Help With Travel Anxiety," 11 Nov. 2019 The senior virtuoso tallied a career-high 40 kills to go with 18 service points and five aces in a 3-1 win over Brookline, part of a 1-2 week for the Mustangs. Dan Mcloone,, "A net gain for Chelmsford boys’ volleball," 17 May 2018 Also on the program was a blunt and rather colorless account of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, with the young Uzbek virtuoso Behzod Abduraimov making his debut as soloist. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Copland’s generous patriotism gets boost from SF Symphony," 16 Mar. 2018 And blues guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa plays March 6-7 at Playhouse Sqaure Connor Palace Theatre. Michael Norman, cleveland, "March concert guide: 35 great shows to see in Greater Cleveland this month," 1 Mar. 2020 But that raises the question why, despite her inability to hold her line, the press treats her as some Machiavellian virtuoso. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "Mitch Derangement Syndrome," 27 Jan. 2020

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

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for virtuoso

Italian, from virtuoso, adjective, virtuous, skilled, from Late Latin virtuosus virtuous, from Latin virtus

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The first known use of virtuoso was in 1651

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Last Updated

4 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Virtuoso.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for virtuoso


How to pronounce virtuoso (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of virtuoso

: a person who does something in a very skillful way especially : a very skillful musician


vir·​tu·​o·​so | \ ˌvər-chə-ˈwō-sō How to pronounce virtuoso (audio) , -zō \
plural virtuosos or virtuosi\ -​sē , -​zē \

Kids Definition of virtuoso

: a person who is an outstanding performer especially in music a piano virtuoso

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