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[pee-an-oh, pyan-oh] /piˈæn oʊ, ˈpyæn oʊ/
noun, plural pianos.
a musical instrument in which felt-covered hammers, operated from a keyboard, strike the metal strings.
Origin of piano1
First recorded in 1795-1805; short for pianoforte


[pee-ah-noh; Italian pyah-naw] /piˈɑ noʊ; Italian ˈpyɑ nɔ/ Music.
soft; subdued.
Abbreviation: p, p.
1675-85; < Italian: soft, low (of sounds), plain, flat < Latin plānus plain1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for piano
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He took the song from his pocket, and smoothed it out before her on the piano.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • She moved out the day I furnished the rooms upstairs and got the piano.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • She sat down at the piano and played a tune that was popular at the time—I do not remember what.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • The violin and piano are excellent, but on some accounts the hand-organ is the best of all.

  • But in this hole that we are in, there's no room fitting for my piano.

British Dictionary definitions for piano


noun (pl) -anos
a musical stringed instrument resembling a harp set in a vertical or horizontal frame, played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike the strings and produce audible vibrations See also grand piano, upright piano
Word Origin
C19: short for pianoforte


adjective, adverb
(music) (to be performed) softly p
Word Origin
C17: from Italian, from Latin plānus flat; see plain1


/Italian pjˈɑno/
Renzo. born 1937, Italian architect; buildings include the Pompidou Centre, Paris (1977; with Richard Rogers), the Potsdamer Platz redevelopment, Berlin (1998), and The Shard, London (2012)
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 piano

1803, from French piano (18c.), Italian piano, shortened forms of pianoforte (q.v.). As an adverb, "softly," in musical directions (superlative pianissimo), attested from 1680s. Piano wire attested from 1831.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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piano in Culture

piano definition

A musical direction meaning “to be performed softly”; the opposite of forte. As the name of a musical instrument, it is short for pianoforte.

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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Slang definitions & phrases for piano



Spareribs, esp a single section of broiled spareribs: cornbread with a piano on a platter (1940s+ Black)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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