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[stuh-kah-toh] /stəˈkɑ toʊ/
shortened and detached when played or sung:
staccato notes.
characterized by performance in which the notes are abruptly disconnected:
a staccato style of playing.
Compare legato.
composed of or characterized by abruptly disconnected elements; disjointed:
rapid-fire, staccato speech.
in a staccato manner.
noun, plural staccatos, staccati
[stuh-kah-tee] /stəˈkɑ ti/ (Show IPA)
performance in a staccato manner.
a staccato passage.
Origin of staccato
1715-25; < Italian: disconnected, past participle of staccare (derivative of stacca pole < Gothic, but taken as a variant of distaccare to detach) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for staccato
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I dashed into my room but Meg's staccato reached me even there.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • Whatever of despair he felt did not appear in his staccato orders.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • Almost simultaneously the air resounded with staccato bursts.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • His face was set and his voice as he greeted O'Moy sharp and staccato.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • The ticking of the clock and the snapping of the fire mingled in a staccato duet.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • Once he gave a command in the staccato fashion of a terrified man.

  • His intention had been, once more, to make a note "staccato," and he had been misunderstood.

    The Shadow World

    Hamlin Garland
  • She stood still on the sidewalk, exploding into tiny, staccato sentences.

    Jane Journeys On Ruth Comfort Mitchell
  • Then came an answering series of staccato taps, soft yet clear.

British Dictionary definitions for staccato


(music) (of notes) short, clipped, and separate
characterized by short abrupt sounds, as in speech: a staccato command
(esp used as a musical direction) in a staccato manner
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, from staccare to detach, shortened from distaccare
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 staccato

1724, from Italian staccato, literally "detached, disconnected," from past participle of staccare "to detach," shortened form of distaccare "separate, detach," from Middle French destacher, from Old French destachier "to detach" (see detach).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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staccato in Culture
staccato [(stuh-kah-toh)]

A direction in music meaning that the notes should be performed in an abrupt, sharp, clear-cut manner.

Note: The term staccato has been applied generally to things that occur in rapid bursts, such as gunfire.
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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