[ahn-sahm-buhl, -sahmb; French ahn-sahn-bluh]
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noun, plural en·sem·bles [ahn-sahm-sahm-buhlz, -sahmbz; French ahn-sahn-bluh] /ɑnˈsɑmˈsɑm bəlz, -ˈsɑmbz; French ɑ̃ˈsɑ̃ blə/.
  1. all the parts of a thing taken together, so that each part is considered only in relation to the whole.
  2. the entire costume of an individual, especially when all the parts are in harmony: She was wearing a beautiful ensemble by one of the French designers.
  3. a set of furniture.
  4. Music.
    1. the united performance of an entire group of singers, musicians, etc.
    2. the group so performing: a string ensemble.
  5. a group of supporting entertainers, as actors, dancers, and singers, in a theatrical production.

Origin of ensemble

1740–50; < French: together < Latin insimul, equivalent to in- in-2 + simul together; see simultaneous

Synonyms for ensemble

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ensemble


  1. all the parts of something considered together and in relation to the whole
  2. a person's complete costume; outfit
    1. the cast of a play other than the principals; supporting players
    2. (as modifier)an ensemble role
  3. music
    1. a group of soloists singing or playing together
    2. (as modifier)an ensemble passage
  4. music the degree of precision and unity exhibited by a group of instrumentalists or singers performing togetherthe ensemble of the strings is good
  5. the general or total effect of something made up of individual parts
  6. physics
    1. a set of systems (such as a set of collections of atoms) that are identical in all respects apart from the motions of their constituents
    2. a single system (such as a collection of atoms) in which the properties are determined by the statistical behaviour of its constituents
  1. all together or at once
  1. (of a film or play) involving several separate but often interrelated story linesensemble comedy drama
  2. involving no individual star but several actors whose roles are of equal importancefine ensemble playing

Word Origin for ensemble

C15: from French: together, from Latin insimul, from in- ² + simul at the same time
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 ensemble

mid-15c., as an adverb, "together, at the same time," from Middle French ensemblée "all the parts of a thing considered together," from Late Latin insimul "at the same time," from in- intensive prefix + simul "at the same time," related to similis (see similar). The noun is from 1703, "parts of a thing taken together;" musical sense in English first attested 1844. Of women's dress and accessories, from 1927.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper