[ fawrt, fohrt or for 1, fawr-tey ]
/ fɔrt, foʊrt or for 1, ˈfɔr teɪ /


a person's strong suit, or most highly developed characteristic, talent, or skill; something that one excels in: I don't know what her forte is, but it's not music.
the stronger part of a sword blade, between the middle and the hilt (opposed to foible).

Origin of forte

1640–50; earlier fort < Middle French (see fort); disyllabic pronunciation by association with forte2


fort forte (see pronunciation note at the current entry)

Quotations related to forte

  • "[George B.] McClellan is an intelligent engineer and officer, but not a commander to lead a great army in the field. To attack or advance with energy and power is not in him; to fight is not his forte."
    -Gideon Welles, from his diary entry for September 3, 1862 by Henry Steele Commager The Blue and the Gray: The Story of the Civil War as told by participants, Volumes 1-2 (1982)
  • "Who was he kidding? It wasn't his forte. He had no forte. That was his forte."
    -Stanley Elkin The Guest Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers (1965)
  • "Elegance, oratory, and women are his forte."
    -Luis Rafael Sánchez transl. by Gregory Rabassa Macho Camacho's Beat (2001)
  • "[B]e sure to hold the sword comfortably in front of you with the forte (not the hilt) guarding your head."
    -Richard Lane Swashbuckling: a step-by-step guide to the art of stage combat and theatrical swordplay (1999)

pronunciation note for forte

In the sense of a person's strong suit ( He draws well, but sculpture is his real forte ), the older and historical pronunciation of forte is the one-syllable [fawrt] /fɔrt/ or [fohrt] /foʊrt/, pronounced as the English word fort. The word is derived from the French word fort, meaning “strong.” A two-syllable pronunciation [fawr-tey] /ˈfɔr teɪ/ is increasingly heard, especially from younger educated speakers, perhaps owing to confusion with the musical term forte, pronounced in English as [fawr-tey] /ˈfɔr teɪ/ and in Italian as [fawr-te] /ˈfɔr tɛ/. Both the one- and two-syllable pronunciations of forte are now considered standard.

popular references for forte

—FORTE: An acronym for Fast On-orbit Rapid Recording of Transient Events, FORTE is a lightweight satellite orbiting earth since August 1997. It is the first satellite made of an all-composite structure, and was designed to test new technologies for monitoring compliance with arms control treaties.
—Forte: A character in the 1997 animated film Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. The actor Tim Curry provided the voice for Forte, who is a pipe organ.
—Kia Forte: A compact car manufactured by Kia Motors since 2008 and marketed worldwide.

Definition for forte (2 of 2)

[ fawr-tey; Italian fawr-te ]
/ ˈfɔr teɪ; Italian ˈfɔr tɛ /


(a direction in a musical score or part) loud; with force (opposed to piano).


(a direction in a musical score or part) loudly.


a passage that is loud and played with force or is marked to be so. Abbreviation: f

Origin of forte

1715–25; < Italian < Latin fortis strong Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for forte

British Dictionary definitions for forte (1 of 2)

/ (fɔːt, ˈfɔːteɪ) /


something at which a person excels; strong pointcooking is my forte
fencing the stronger section of a sword blade, between the hilt and the middleCompare foible

Word Origin for forte

C17: from French fort, from fort (adj) strong, from Latin fortis

British Dictionary definitions for forte (2 of 2)

/ (ˈfɔːtɪ) music /

adjective, adverb

loud or loudlySymbol: f


a loud passage in music

Word Origin for forte

C18: from Italian, from Latin fortis strong
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

Culture definitions for forte

[ (fawr-tay) ]

A musical direction meaning “to be performed loudly”; the opposite of piano.

notes for forte

The common keyboard instrument the pianoforte (“piano” for short) got its name because it could play both soft and loud notes.
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.