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[op-uh-ret-uh] /ˌɒp əˈrɛt ə/
a short opera, usually of a light and amusing character.
Origin of operetta
1760-70; < Italian, diminutive of opera opera1
Related forms
operettist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for operetta
Historical Examples
  • Her only attempt in larger form is the operetta "Elle et Lui."

    Woman's Work in Music Arthur Elson
  • He decided to start with something easy and dash off an operetta.

    Ade's Fables George Ade
  • Did Jerry tell you that Laurie Armitage has finished his operetta?

    Marjorie Dean Pauline Lester
  • Although she did not say so, she was sorry that Mignon had been given a principal's part in the operetta.

    Marjorie Dean Pauline Lester
  • The operetta was to be sung in the Sanford Theatre, where the dress rehearsal had been held.

    Marjorie Dean Pauline Lester
  • To leave the theatre on a search for Charlie meant disaster to Laurie's operetta.

    Marjorie Dean Pauline Lester
  • The surrender was followed by the operetta in which Miss Ethel was heroine.

    Much Ado About Peter Jean Webster
  • In order to please her, he proposed an operetta, but she would not accept the sacrifice.

    Fair Haven and Foul Strand August Strindberg
  • Couldn't the city department get someone to cover the operetta?

    Painted Veils James Huneker
  • But Wolfgang begs him (January 18, 1781) to bring with him "Schachtner's operetta."

British Dictionary definitions for operetta


a type of comic or light-hearted opera
Derived Forms
operettist, noun
Word Origin
C18: from Italian: a small opera1
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 operetta

"light opera," 1775, from Italian operetta, diminutive of opera.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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operetta in Culture

operetta definition

Comic or lighthearted operas of the kind written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Operettas generally have a substantial amount of spoken (not sung) dialogue.

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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