Try Our Apps


The saddest words


[fawrt, fohrt or for 1, fawr-tey] /fɔrt, foʊrt or for 1, ˈfɔr teɪ/
a person's strong suit, or most highly developed characteristic, talent, or skill; something that one excels in:
I don't know what her forte is, but it's not music.
the stronger part of a sword blade, between the middle and the hilt (opposed to foible).
Origin of forte1
1640-50; earlier fort < Middle French (see fort); disyllabic pronunciation by association with forte2
Can be confused
fort, forte (see pronunciation note at the current entry)
Pronunciation note
In the sense of a person's strong suit (He draws well, but sculpture is his real forte), the older and historical pronunciation of forte is the one-syllable
[fawrt] /fɔrt/ (Show IPA)
[fohrt] /foʊrt/
pronounced as the English word fort. The word is derived from the French word fort, meaning “strong.” A two-syllable pronunciation
[fawr-tey] /ˈfɔr teɪ/
is increasingly heard, especially from younger educated speakers, perhaps owing to confusion with the musical term forte, pronounced in English as
[fawr-tey] /ˈfɔr teɪ/
and in Italian as
[fawr-te] /ˈfɔr tɛ/ .
Both the one- and two-syllable pronunciations of forte are now considered standard.
Related Quotations
“[George B.] McClellan is an intelligent engineer and officer, but not a commander to lead a great army in the field. To attack or advance with energy and power is not in him; to fight is not his forte.“
—Gideon Welles, from his diary entry for September 3, 1862, The Blue and the Gray: The Story of the Civil War as told by participants, Volumes 1-2 by Henry Steele Commager (1982)
“Who was he kidding? It wasn't his forte. He had no forte. That was his forte.“
—Stanley Elkin, “The Guest“ Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers (1965)
“Elegance, oratory, and women are his forte.“
—Luis Rafael Sánchez, Macho Camacho's Beat transl. by Gregory Rabassa (2001)
“[B]e sure to hold the sword comfortably in front of you with the forte (not the hilt) guarding your head.“
—Richard Lane, Swashbuckling: a step-by-step guide to the art of stage combat and theatrical swordplay (1999)


[fawr-tey; Italian fawr-te] /ˈfɔr teɪ; Italian ˈfɔr tɛ/ Music.
(a direction in a musical score or part) loud; with force (opposed to piano).
(a direction in a musical score or part) loudly.
a passage that is loud and played with force or is marked to be so.
Abbreviation: f.
1715-25; < Italian < Latin fortis strong Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for forte
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her forte is politics, and indeed she is no mean politician in her way.

    A Fantasy of Far Japan Baron Kencho Suyematsu
  • He is not gamy,—fighting's not his forte, A Haycock fight is just no sort of sport.

    A Phenomenal Fauna Carolyn Wells
  • His effort might have been a greater success if he had abstained from jocularity, which was not by any means his forte.

    In Brief Authority F. Anstey
  • It never seemed to me that entertaining children was your forte.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • Then when a crescendo came, he raised himself again by degrees, and upon the commencement of the forte, sprang bolt upright.

British Dictionary definitions for forte


/fɔːt; ˈfɔːteɪ/
something at which a person excels; strong point: cooking is my forte
(fencing) the stronger section of a sword blade, between the hilt and the middle Compare foible
Word Origin
C17: from French fort, from fort (adj) strong, from Latin fortis


adjective, adverb
loud or loudly f
a loud passage in music
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, from Latin fortis strong
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for forte

1640s, from French fort "strong point (of a sword blade)," also "fort," from Middle French fort (see fort). Meaning "strong point of a person" is from 1680s. Final -e- added 18c. in imitation of Italian forte "strong."


music instruction, "loud, loudly," from Italian forte, literally "strong," from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).


music instruction, "loud, loudly," from Italian forte, literally "strong," from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
forte in Culture
forte [(fawr-tay)]

A musical direction meaning “to be performed loudly”; the opposite of piano.

Note: The common keyboard instrument the pianoforte (“piano” for short) got its name because it could play both soft and loud notes.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for forte

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for forte

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for forte