[pee-an-oh, pyan-oh]

noun, plural pi·an·os.

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

Origin of piano

First recorded in 1795–1805; short for pianoforte


[pee-ah-noh; Italian pyah-naw]Music.


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

Contemporary Examples of piano

Historical Examples of piano

  • He took the song from his pocket, and smoothed it out before her on the piano.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • She moved out the day I furnished the rooms upstairs and got the piano.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • She sat down at the piano and played a tune that was popular at the time—I do not remember what.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • The violin and piano are excellent, but on some accounts the hand-organ is the best of all.

  • But in this hole that we are in, there's no room fitting for my piano.

British Dictionary definitions for piano



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



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

piano in Culture


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.