Origin of operetta

1760–70; < Italian, diminutive of opera opera1
Related formsop·er·et·tist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for operetta

Historical Examples of operetta

  • Her only attempt in larger form is the operetta "Elle et Lui."

  • He decided to start with something easy and dash off an Operetta.

    Ade's Fables

    George Ade

  • Although she did not say so, she was sorry that Mignon had been given a principal's part in the operetta.

    Marjorie Dean

    Pauline Lester

  • Did Jerry tell you that Laurie Armitage has finished his operetta?

    Marjorie Dean

    Pauline Lester

  • The operetta was to be sung in the Sanford Theatre, where the dress rehearsal had been held.

    Marjorie Dean

    Pauline Lester

British Dictionary definitions for operetta


  1. a type of comic or light-hearted opera
Derived Formsoperettist, noun

Word Origin for operetta

C18: from Italian: a small opera 1
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 operetta

"light opera," 1775, from Italian operetta, diminutive of opera.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

operetta in Culture


Comic or lighthearted operas of the kind written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Operettas generally have a substantial amount of spoken (not sung) dialogue.

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.