[fawr-tis-uh-moh; Italian fawr-tees-see-maw]Music.


(a direction) very loud.


(a direction) very loudly.

Origin of fortissimo

1715–25; < Italian; superlative of forte forte2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fortissimo

Historical Examples of fortissimo

  • Her defiant speech was like the fortissimo from a full orchestra.

    Painted Veils

    James Huneker

  • When I say ‘fortissimo,’ you play fortissimo; when I say ‘allegro,’ you play allegro.

  • Allegro and fortissimo had been McAllister's tempo and tone.

  • She was part of the refrain—a note in the fortissimo of industry.

    The Underworld

    James C. Welsh

  • It is said that in this piece Paganini produced a tone that dominated the whole orchestra even in fortissimo passages.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work

    Stephen Samuel Stratton

British Dictionary definitions for fortissimo


adjective, adverb

very loudSymbol: ff


a very loud passage in music

Word Origin for fortissimo

C18: from Italian, from Latin fortissimus, from 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 fortissimo

1724, from Italian fortissimo, superlative of forte "loud, strong," from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fortissimo in Culture



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

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.