a capella

1876, earlier alla capella (1847), from Italian, "in the manner of the chapel," literally "according to the chapel," from cappella "chapel" (see chapel). Originally in reference to older church music (pre-1600) which was written for unaccompanied voices; applied 20c. to unaccompanied vocal music generally.

Nearby words

  1. a band,
  2. a battery,
  3. a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,
  4. a bit,
  5. a bursary,
  6. a cappella,
  7. a capriccio,
  8. a cell,
  9. a chain,
  10. a christmas carol

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper