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
Did You Know?
English speakers borrowed the Italian noun virtuoso in the 1600s, but the Italian word had a former life as an adjective meaning both "virtuous" and "skilled." The first virtuosos (the English word can be pluralized as either virtuosos or, in the image of its Italian forbear, as virtuosi) 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 arts and to skilled musicians, specifically. In time, English speakers broadened virtuoso to apply to a person adept in any pursuit.
"Perhaps most captivating is the sheer range of strange, delicate and piercing sounds the brilliant Bjarke Mogensen draws from the accordion; who needs synthesizers when you have this virtuoso in your ensemble? — The New York Times, 6 May 2021
"But a true original style is never achieved for its own sake: a man may pay from a shilling to a guinea, according to his means, to see, hear, or read another man's act of genius; but he will not pay with his whole life and soul to become a mere virtuoso in literature, exhibiting an accomplishment which will not even make money for him, like fiddle playing." — George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1905
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete a word for a musical passage requiring exceptional agility and technical skill: _ _ av _ _ a.VIEW THE ANSWER
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