[ pee-an-oh, pyan-oh ]
/ piˈæn oʊ, ˈpyæn oʊ /

noun, plural pi·an·os.

a musical instrument in which felt-covered hammers, operated from a keyboard, strike the metal strings.

Nearby words

  1. pianism,
  2. pianissimo,
  3. pianist,
  4. pianistic,
  5. pianistics,
  6. piano accordion,
  7. piano bar,
  8. piano duet,
  9. piano hinge,
  10. piano nobile

Origin of piano

First recorded in 1795–1805; short for pianoforte


[ pee-ah-noh; Italian pyah-naw ]
/ piˈɑ noʊ; Italian ˈpyɑ nɔ /


soft; subdued.


softly. Abbreviation: p, p.

Origin of piano

1675–85; < Italian: soft, low (of sounds), plain, flat < Latin plānus plain1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for piano

British Dictionary definitions for piano


/ (pɪˈænəʊ) /

noun plural -anos

a musical stringed instrument resembling a harp set in a vertical or horizontal frame, played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike the strings and produce audible vibrationsSee also grand piano, upright piano

Word Origin for piano

C19: short for pianoforte

adjective, adverb

music (to be performed) softlySymbol: p

Word Origin for piano

C17: from Italian, from Latin plānus flat; see plain 1


/ (Italian pjˈɑno) /


Renzo. born 1937, Italian architect; buildings include the Pompidou Centre, Paris (1977; with Richard Rogers), the Potsdamer Platz redevelopment, Berlin (1998), and The Shard, London (2012)
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 piano



1803, from French piano (18c.), Italian piano, shortened forms of pianoforte (q.v.). As an adverb, "softly," in musical directions (superlative pianissimo), attested from 1680s. Piano wire attested from 1831.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for piano


A musical direction meaning “to be performed softly”; the opposite of forte. As the name of a musical instrument, it is short for pianoforte.

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.