[kahn-tah-bi-ley, -bee-, kuh n-; Italian kahn-tah-bee-le]Music.


songlike and flowing in style.


in a cantabile manner.

Origin of cantabile

1720–30; < Italian < Late Latin cantābilis worth singing, equivalent to Latin cantā(re) to sing (see cant1) + -bilis -ble Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cantabile

Historical Examples of cantabile

  • After the exposition of the subject, the violin has figure-playing of an easy kind, while the violoncello has a Cantabile theme.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work

    Stephen Samuel Stratton

  • Trio in D major, Cantabile theme for violin, doubled by the viola in the octave below.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work

    Stephen Samuel Stratton

  • He executes the most difficult passages with the most extraordinary ease, and especially pours out his heart in the Cantabile.

    The Violoncello and Its History

    Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski

  • Wilhelmj drew from his instrument the noblest sounds I ever heard; not Joachim, not Ysaye excelled him in cantabile.


    James Huneker

  • The cantabile slow movement, modeled somewhat after the Italian cantilena, was his.

British Dictionary definitions for cantabile


adjective, adverb

(to be performed) in a singing style, i.e. flowingly and melodiously


a piece or passage performed in this way

Word Origin for cantabile

Italian, from Late Latin cantābilis, from Latin cantāre to sing
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

Word Origin and History for cantabile

1724, from Italian, literally "singable, that can be sung," from cantare "to sing" (see chant (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper