1 of 3

noun (1)

ˈfȯr-ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio)
 also  fȯr-ˈtā,
ˈfȯrt How to pronounce forte (audio)
 or  ˈfȯr-tē
: one's strong point
ˈfȯrt How to pronounce forte (audio) : the part of a sword or foil blade that is between the middle and the hilt and that is the strongest part of the blade
How do you pronounce forte?: Usage Guide

In forte we have a word derived from French that in its "strong point" sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \ˈfȯr-ˌtā\ and \ˈfȯr-tē\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived forte entry 2. Their recommended pronunciation \ˈfȯrt\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word le fort and would pronounce it more similar to English for. So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English \ˈfȯ-ˌtā\ and \ˈfȯt\ predominate; \ˈfȯr-ˌtā\ and \fȯr-ˈtā\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English.


2 of 3

adverb or adjective

for·​te ˈfȯr-ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio)
: loud
used as a direction in music
violins played the passage forte


3 of 3

noun (2)

for·​te ˈfȯr-ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio)
: a musical tone or passage played loudly

Did you know?

En garde! When English speakers borrowed the word forte from French in the 17th century, it referred to the strongest part of the blade of a fencing sword, the section between the middle and the hilt. (The word’s ultimate source is the French adjective fort, meaning “strong.”) Forte was perfectly suited for metaphorical use, and it quickly came to refer to the strong point of a person, in addition to the strong point of a blade. (The word has its counterpoint in foible, which comes from an obsolete form of the French word faible, “weak,” and refers both to the weakest part of a sword blade and to a person’s weak point.) There is some controversy over how to correctly pronounce forte. Common choices in American English are “FOR-tay” and “for-TAY,” but many usage commentators recommend matching it to fort, since the e is not pronounced in French. Whichever you choose has no bearing on its meaning, however, and therefore should run you no risk of someone (say, an avenging duelist) commenting: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Examples of forte in a Sentence

Noun (1) Emily's particular forte was desserts, and most dinner parties ended with three desserts. Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClercq, An Antebellum Plantation Household, 1996
Even during Picasso's youthful figurative stages, stark realism was never his forte Patricia Corbett, Connoisseur, July 1988
Though his forte was never the novel but the novella, he paid the rent by grinding out novel after novel … Hugh Kenner, A Sinking Island, (1987) 1988
Recent Examples on the Web
According to Leica, this should only be noticeable when shooting very quickly or using the camera’s fastest continuous burst modes — which are not exactly an M camera’s forte anyway. Antonio G. Di Benedetto, The Verge, 26 Oct. 2023 Attentiveness to any project is rapper Kendrick Lamar’s forte. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 24 Oct. 2023 Rather, its forte was campaigns and political communication. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2023 This year, the nation is supporting a team with the potential to do well in a sport that is not traditionally its forte. Frances Vinall, Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2023 In Diaz’s defense — although defense clearly isn’t his forte — the criticism about sitting out Sunday was misplaced. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2023 Complicated women were always her forte, even when she was painted blue. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 23 June 2023 Well, dance has always been Madonna's forte, as she's been moving and grooving on stage for decades. Emily J. Shiffer, Women's Health, 6 Sep. 2023 The opening was a good deal louder than the score’s mere forte marking. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 9 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'forte.' 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)

French fort, from fort, adjective, strong

Adverb or adjective and Noun (2)

Italian, from forte strong, from Latin fortis

First Known Use

Noun (1)

circa 1648, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adverb Or Adjective

circa 1724, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1759, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of forte was circa 1648


Dictionary Entries Near forte

Cite this Entry

“Forte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: something in which a person shows special ability : a strong point
drawing was always your forte


2 of 2 adverb or adjective
for·​te ˈfȯr-ˌtā How to pronounce forte (audio)
: loud sense 1
used as a direction in music


from earlier fort "the thing a person does very well, strong point," from early French fort (same meaning), derived from Latin fortis "strong"

Adverb or adjective

from Italian forte "strongly, loudly," from forte (adjective) "strong, loud," from Latin fortis "strong"

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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