so·​na·​ta sə-ˈnä-tə How to pronounce sonata (audio)
: an instrumental musical composition typically of three or four movements in contrasting forms and keys

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Its four short movements assume the overall shape of a sonata. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Feb. 2023 To each sonata, and throughout the entire evening, Alard seemed to take a different attitude, leading us by the ear through the emotional content of every moment, using every aspect of his virtuosity, always in service to the work itself. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Dec. 2022 Your ears can not only detect these oscillations, but decode them to reveal a Bach sonata, a laughing friend, or a honking car. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 15 Nov. 2012 But while each cell carries the same genes, every cell only uses some of these instructions, like a sonata that only uses some of the keys on the piano. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, 11 Feb. 2019 This movie is slight by comparison—a sonata instead of a string quartet. Brandon Wilson, Chron, 1 Dec. 2022 The research also included human study participants who listened to the sonata at the four tempos using headphones fitted with accelerometers. Aylin Woodward, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 An article last Sunday about the classical pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and his recording of Haydn’s work misidentified the E minor Haydn piano sonata with 14 pauses. New York Times, 25 Sep. 2022 The researchers also saw a similar effect when the sonata was played at 75% of its original speed. Aylin Woodward, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sonata.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Italian, from sonare to sound, from Latin

First Known Use

1786, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sonata was in 1786

Dictionary Entries Near sonata

Cite this Entry

“Sonata.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


so·​na·​ta sə-ˈnät-ə How to pronounce sonata (audio)
: a piece of music written for instruments and usually having three or four main parts in different styles and different keys

Medical Definition


So·​na·​ta sō-ˈnä-tə How to pronounce Sonata (audio)
used for a preparation of zaleplon

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