a cappella

[ ah kuh-pel-uh; Italian ah kahp-pel-lah ]
/ ˌɑ kəˈpɛl ə; Italian ˌɑ kɑpˈpɛl lɑ /

adverb, adjective Music.

without instrumental accompaniment.
in the style of church or chapel music.

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Origin of a cappella

1875–80; <Italian: in the manner of a chapel (choir)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for a cappella

a cappella
/ (ɑː kəˈpɛlə) /

adjective, adverb

music without instrumental accompaniment

Word Origin for a cappella

Italian: literally, according to (the style of the) chapel
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

Cultural definitions for a cappella

a cappella
[ (ah kuh-pel-uh) ]

Choral singing performed without instruments. The expression means “in chapel style” in Italian. Centuries ago, religious music composed for use in chapels — which, unlike large churches, had no organs — was usually for voices only.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.