melisma

[ mi-liz-muh ]
/ mɪˈlɪz mə /

noun, plural me·lis·mas, me·lis·ma·ta [mi-liz-muh-tuh] /mɪˈlɪz mə tə/. Music.

an ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in plainsong or blues singing.

Origin of melisma

First recorded in 1605–15, melisma is from the Greek word mélisma song, tune. See melody, -ism

OTHER WORDS FROM melisma

mel·is·mat·ic [mel-iz-mat-ik] /ˌmɛl ɪzˈmæt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for melismatic

melisma
/ (mɪˈlɪzmə) /

noun plural -mata (-mətə) or -mas

music an expressive vocal phrase or passage consisting of several notes sung to one syllable

Derived forms of melisma

melismatic (ˌmɛlɪzˈmætɪk), adjective

Word Origin for melisma

C19: from Greek: melody
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