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a cappella

[ah kuh-pel-uh; Italian ah kahp-pel-lah]
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adverb, adjective Music.
  1. without instrumental accompaniment.
  2. in the style of church or chapel music.
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Origin of a cappella

1875–80; < Italian: in the manner of a chapel (choir)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cappella

a cappella

adjective, adverb
  1. music without instrumental accompaniment
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Word Origin

Italian: literally, according to (the style of the) chapel
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

Word Origin and History for cappella

see a cappella.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cappella in Culture

a cappella

[(ah kuh-pel-uh)]

Choral singing performed without instruments. The expression means “in chapel style” in Italian. Centuries ago, religious music composed for use in chapels — which, unlike large churches, had no organs — was usually for voices only.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.