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[kahn-tah-bi-ley, -bee-, kuh n-; Italian kahn-tah-bee-le] /kɑnˈtɑ bɪˌleɪ, -bi-, kən-; Italian kɑnˈtɑ biˌlɛ/ Music.
songlike and flowing in style.
in a cantabile manner.
Origin of cantabile
1720-30; < Italian < Late Latin cantābilis worth singing, equivalent to Latin cantā(re) to sing (see cant1) + -bilis -ble Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cantabile
Historical Examples
  • This is all cantabile; nothing to do with the subject of the piece, which is Donna Olivia;—pray give me the key note to her heart.

  • Trio in D major, cantabile theme for violin, doubled by the viola in the octave below.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • The portamento being an embellishment that pertains to the cantabile, it is very little used in declamatory singing.

    Style in Singing W. E. Haslam
  • After the exposition of the subject, the violin has figure-playing of an easy kind, while the violoncello has a cantabile theme.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • Wilhelmj drew from his instrument the noblest sounds I ever heard; not Joachim, not Ysaye excelled him in cantabile.

    Unicorns James Huneker
  • He executes the most difficult passages with the most extraordinary ease, and especially pours out his heart in the cantabile.

    The Violoncello and Its History Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski
  • The cantabile she certainly will never forget, being her natural bent.

  • The cantabile slow movement, modeled somewhat after the Italian cantilena, was his.

  • This 10-syllable measure is cantabile, and its phrases are too short and too regular to make good recitative verse.

  • Another species of dramatic music, the cantabile of the Italians, is equally neglected among us.

British Dictionary definitions for cantabile


adjective, adverb
(to be performed) in a singing style, i.e. flowingly and melodiously
a piece or passage performed in this way
Word Origin
Italian, from Late Latin cantābilis, from Latin cantāre to sing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cantabile

1724, from Italian, literally "singable, that can be sung," from cantare "to sing" (see chant (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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