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[chel-oh] /ˈtʃɛl oʊ/
noun, plural cellos.
the second largest member of the violin family, rested vertically on the floor between the performer's knees when being played.
Also called violoncello.
Origin of cello1
First recorded in 1875-80; short for violoncello


[sel-oh] /ˈsɛl oʊ/
noun, adjective, Informal.
by shortening Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cello


noun (pl) -los
(music) a bowed stringed instrument of the violin family. Range: more than four octaves upwards from C below the bass staff. It has four strings, is held between the knees, and has an extendible metal spike at the lower end, which acts as a support Full name violoncello
Derived Forms
cellist, noun
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 cello

1857, shortening of violoncello (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cello in Culture
cello [(chel-oh)]

An instrument in the violin family, known for its rich tone. Among the strings, or stringed instruments, the cello has the second-lowest range, higher only than the bass viol, and it has the lowest part in string quartets. Cellists hold the instrument between their knees to play it. Cello is short for violoncello.

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