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[ahn-sahm-buh l, -sahmb; French ahn-sahn-bluh] /ɑnˈsɑm bəl, -ˈsɑmb; French ɑ̃ˈsɑ̃ blə/
noun, plural ensembles
[ahn-sahm-sahm-buh lz, -sahmbz; French ahn-sahn-bluh] /ɑnˈsɑmˈsɑm bəlz, -ˈsɑmbz; French ɑ̃ˈsɑ̃ blə/ (Show IPA)
all the parts of a thing taken together, so that each part is considered only in relation to the whole.
the entire costume of an individual, especially when all the parts are in harmony:
She was wearing a beautiful ensemble by one of the French designers.
a set of furniture.
  1. the united performance of an entire group of singers, musicians, etc.
  2. the group so performing:
    a string ensemble.
a group of supporting entertainers, as actors, dancers, and singers, in a theatrical production.
Origin of ensemble
1740-50; < French: together < Latin insimul, equivalent to in- in-2 + simul together; see simultaneous
1. totality, entirety, aggregate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ensembles
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Only the dances and ensembles of the choruses were tried out in the afternoon.

  • Meyerbeer's distribution of arias, duets, ensembles, and finales is the result of a deliberate eclecticism.

    How Music Developed W. J. Henderson
  • After we get the numbers taught—that is, the songs—then I start to teach the ensembles to dance the different routines.

  • We find none of the set forms of the later opera seria, no regular arie, no duets, no ensembles.

  • The ensembles are of a far higher character than the solos, both as regards characterisation and musical execution.

  • It was an effect held in high esteem by Rossini, who introduced it constantly in his operas—witness his overtures and ensembles.

    Style in Singing W. E. Haslam
British Dictionary definitions for ensembles


/ɒnˈsɒmbəl; French ɑ̃sɑ̃blə/
all the parts of something considered together and in relation to the whole
a person's complete costume; outfit
  1. the cast of a play other than the principals; supporting players
  2. (as modifier): an ensemble role
  1. a group of soloists singing or playing together
  2. (as modifier): an ensemble passage
(music) the degree of precision and unity exhibited by a group of instrumentalists or singers performing together: the ensemble of the strings is good
the general or total effect of something made up of individual parts
  1. a set of systems (such as a set of collections of atoms) that are identical in all respects apart from the motions of their constituents
  2. a single system (such as a collection of atoms) in which the properties are determined by the statistical behaviour of its constituents
all together or at once
(of a film or play) involving several separate but often interrelated story lines: ensemble comedy drama
involving no individual star but several actors whose roles are of equal importance: fine ensemble playing
Word Origin
C15: from French: together, from Latin insimul, from in-² + simul at the same time
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 ensembles



mid-15c., as an adverb, "together, at the same time," from Middle French ensemblée "all the parts of a thing considered together," from Late Latin insimul "at the same time," from in- intensive prefix + simul "at the same time," related to similis (see similar). The noun is from 1703, "parts of a thing taken together;" musical sense in English first attested 1844. Of women's dress and accessories, from 1927.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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