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

In remarkable scenes that flustered even the sotto voce BBC commentators, opposition lawmakers threw themselves at the silk-canopied speaker’s chair, trying in vain to keep him from getting to his feet and allowing Parliament to be suspended., "When a security team finally tore the lawmakers away, the speaker, John Bercow, remained studiously seated, causing one of the BBC commentators to marvel under her voice, “He’s not going to go.”," 11 Sep. 2019 Then Ansari dials down his loud and nasal drawl to sotto voce. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "The Productive Ambivalence of Aziz Ansari in His Comeback Netflix Special," 13 July 2019 His vibratoless, nasal-toned, sotto voce croon floated with seeming detachment above his guitar. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "João Gilberto, a quiet and leading voice of Brazil’s bossa nova music, dies at 88," 6 July 2019 Openly cooperating with Israel without resolving the future of Jerusalem and its Islamic holy sites surely would provoke opposition from religious Saudis, though only sotto voce given the crown prince’s severe repression of domestic opponents. Karen Elliott House, WSJ, "Will Netanyahu Go to Riyadh?," 6 Jan. 2019 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

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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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

More from Merriam-Webster on mezza voce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mezza voce

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