a cappella

[ ah kuh-pel-uh; Italian ah kahp-pel-lah ]
See synonyms for a cappella on Thesaurus.com
adverb, adjectiveMusic.
  1. Sometimes acappella . without instrumental accompaniment.

  2. in the style of church or chapel music.

Origin of a cappella

First recorded in 1875–80; from Italian: literally, “in the manner of a chapel (choir)”

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use a cappella in a sentence

  • There is no other building of like dimensions which grips one as does the wonderful Cappella Palatina of Palermo.

    Cathedral Cities of Italy | William Wiehe Collins
  • His lovely Pieta is the Cappella della Pieta, and this is the most splendid work within the building.

    Old Continental Towns | Walter M. Gallichan
  • Finally let me mention the bronze reliefs of the life of S. Dominic in the Cappella of that saint in the right aisle.

  • To the right of the court is what was once the Cappella delle Carceri.

  • Maria in Cappella, which has a good brick campanile, dating from 1090.

    Walks in Rome | Augustus J.C. Hare

British Dictionary definitions for a cappella

a cappella

/ (ɑː kəˈpɛlə) /

adjective, adverb
  1. music without instrumental accompaniment

Origin of 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.