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forte

1
[fawrt, fohrt or for 1, fawr-tey]
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noun
  1. 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.
  2. the stronger part of a sword blade, between the middle and the hilt (opposed to foible).
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Origin of forte

1
1640–50; earlier fort < Middle French (see fort); disyllabic pronunciation by association with forte2
Can be confusedfort forte (see pronunciation note at the current entry)

Pronunciation note

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


—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.
Related Quotations
  • "[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)

forte

2
[fawr-tey; Italian fawr-te]Music.
adjective
  1. (a direction in a musical score or part) loud; with force (opposed to piano).
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adverb
  1. (a direction in a musical score or part) loudly.
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noun
  1. a passage that is loud and played with force or is marked to be so. Abbreviation: f
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Origin of forte

2
1715–25; < Italian < Latin fortis strong
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for forte

strength, talent, gift, efficiency, thing, medium, aptitude, faculty, effectiveness, competence, ability, speciality, oyster, eminency

Examples from the Web for forte

Contemporary Examples of forte

Historical Examples of forte

  • His forte was not in public speaking, but he hoped they would take the will for the deed.

  • The leader could not understand me, and kept on yelling "Forte, Forte."

    Melomaniacs

    James Huneker

  • How shall I acknowledge it—equestrianism was never my forte.

    The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, Complete

    Charles James Lever (1806-1872)

  • Whatever the British Officer may be his forte has never lain in his acting.

  • He is in the household of King Leopold, and his forte is dressing the table!'

    Tancred

    Benjamin Disraeli


British Dictionary definitions for forte

forte

1
noun
  1. something at which a person excels; strong pointcooking is my forte
  2. fencing the stronger section of a sword blade, between the hilt and the middleCompare foible
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Word Origin for forte

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

forte

2
adjective, adverb
  1. loud or loudlySymbol: f
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noun
  1. a loud passage in music
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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

Word Origin and History for forte

n.

1640s, from French fort "strong point (of a sword blade)," also "fort," from Middle French fort (see fort). Meaning "strong point of a person" is from 1680s. Final -e- added 18c. in imitation of Italian forte "strong."

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adj.

music instruction, "loud, loudly," from Italian forte, literally "strong," from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

forte in Culture

forte

[(fawr-tay)]

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

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Note

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.