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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
noun plural -mata (-mətə) or -mas
music an expressive vocal phrase or passage consisting of several notes sung to one syllable
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
1837, from Greek melisma "a song, an air, a tune, melody," from melos "music, song, melody; musical phrase or member," literally "limb," from PIE *mel- "a limb." Related: Melismatic.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper