mez·​za vo·​ce | \ ˌmet-sä-ˈvō-(ˌ)chā How to pronounce mezza voce (audio) , ˌmed-zä-\

Definition of mezza voce

 (Entry 1 of 11)

: with medium or half volume used as a direction in music
sot·​to vo·​ce | \ ˌsä-tō-ˈvō-chē How to pronounce sotto voce (audio) \

Definition of sotto voce (Entry 2 of 11)

1 : under the breath : in an undertone also : in a private manner
2 : very softly used as a direction in music

viva voce

adverb (1)
vi·​va vo·​ce | \ ˌvī-və-ˈvō-(ˌ)sē How to pronounce viva voce (audio) or ˌvē-və-ˈvō-(ˌ)chā How to pronounce viva voce (audio) \

Definition of viva voce (Entry 3 of 11)

: by word of mouth : orally

viva voce


Definition of viva voce (Entry 4 of 11)

: expressed or conducted by means of speech : orally sense 1

viva voce

noun (1)

Definition of viva voce (Entry 5 of 11)

: an examination conducted viva voce

called also viva

col·​la vo·​ce | \ ˈkōlə¦vō(ˌ)chā\

Definition of colla voce (Entry 6 of 11)

messa di voce

noun (2)
mes·​sa di vo·​ce | \ ˌmāsədēˈvō(ˌ)chā, ˌmes-\
plural messe di voce\ -​(ˌ)sād-​ \

Definition of messa di voce (Entry 7 of 11)

: the singing of a gradual crescendo and decrescendo on a long sustained tone used of a vocal technique originating in 18th century bel canto

messe di voce

Definition of messe di voce (Entry 8 of 11)

plural of messa di voce

una voce

adverb (2)
una vo·​ce | \ ˈünəˈvōkā, ˈyünəˈvōsē\

Definition of una voce (Entry 9 of 11)

: with one voice : unanimously
vo·​ce pi·​ena | \ ¦vō(ˌ)chāpēˈenə\

Definition of voce piena (Entry 10 of 11)

: with full voice used as a direction in music

voce velata

adverb (or adjective)
voce ve·​la·​ta | \ -və̇ˈlätə\

Definition of voce velata (Entry 11 of 11)

: with veiled voice used as a direction in music

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Synonyms & Antonyms for mezza voce

Synonyms: Adjective

nuncupative, oral, spoken, unwritten, verbal, word-of-mouth

Antonyms: Adjective

paper, written

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Did You Know?

It’s no secret: in our first example sentence, sotto voce functions as an adverb, modifying the verb tell. But sotto voce, which was borrowed into English from the Italian word sottovoce (literally meaning "under the voice"), can also serve as an adjective. That’s the role it plays in our second example sentence. The adverb sense first appeared in English in the 18th century and soon afterward found use in musical directions calling for whispered vocals. The adjective sense came about in the early 19th century.

Examples of mezza voce in a Sentence


the students are required to write two papers and take a viva voce examination

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb or adjective

When Londoners look to up their complexion game, one name is traded back and forth, sotto voce: Teresa Tarmey, the facialist behind the lit-from-within glows of Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Naomie Harris, and a gaggle of It Brits too numerous to name. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "London’s Favorite Celebrity Facialist Opens a New Skin-Care Studio in Tribeca," 24 Aug. 2018 Who among us hasn’t fallen asleep to Jim Nantz’s soothing sotto voce during Masters weekend? Jason Gay, WSJ, "Will You Pay to Watch Tiger and Phil?," 23 Aug. 2018 But this will also be a contrast in demeanors: Halep’s loud grunts and emotional expressiveness with Stephens’s sotto voce on-court zenitude. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Can Simona Halep Finally Make Her Major Breakthrough?," 7 June 2018 The reason for McCarthy’s withdrawal remains the source of much sotto voce speculation. Philip Elliott, Time, "Republicans Brace for a Brutal House Leadership Race," 1 June 2018 When asking you to put your phone away, the gentleman should have gone sotto voce. Amy Dickinson,, "Family wedding could revive feuds," 5 May 2018 When asking you to put your phone away, the gentleman should have gone sotto voce. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Family wedding could revive family feud," 5 May 2018 That's not to denigrate Auerbach, whose almost sotto voce delivery gives the songs their own meaning. Chuck Yarborough,, "Chuck Auerbach follows in the footsteps of his Black Keys son with Beachland gig (concert review)," 4 May 2018 According to the Democratic nominee, there's a particular breed of Obamaniacs who approach him after events to confess their Obamania--sotto voce. Newsweek, "Analysis," 14 Mar. 2018

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

Adverb or adjective (1)

1776, in the meaning defined above

Adverb or adjective (2)

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb (1)

1563, in the meaning defined above


1654, in the meaning defined above

Noun (1)

1842, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mezza voce

Adverb or adjective (1)

Italian, half voice

Adverb or adjective (2)

Italian sottovoce, literally, under the voice

Adverb (1)

Medieval Latin, with the living voice

Adverb (or adjective) (1)

Italian, with the voice

Noun (2)

Italian, literally, placing of the voice

Adverb (2)

Latin, with one voice

Adverb (or adjective) (2)


Adverb (or adjective)


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Statistics for mezza voce

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mezza voce

The first known use of mezza voce was in 1563

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More Definitions for mezza voce

sotto voce


English Language Learners Definition of sotto voce

 (Entry 1 of 3)

formal : in a very quiet voice
music : very softly

viva voce


English Language Learners Definition of viva voce (Entry 2 of 3)

: spoken rather than written

viva voce


English Language Learners Definition of viva voce (Entry 3 of 3)

British : an oral examination given at a British university

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mezza voce

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using a distributed computer network

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