[pit-si-kah-toh; Italian peet-tsee-kah-taw]Music.


played by plucking the strings with the finger instead of using the bow, as on a violin.

noun, plural piz·zi·ca·ti [pit-si-kah-tee; Italian peet-tsee-kah-tee] /ˌpɪt sɪˈkɑ ti; Italian ˌpit tsiˈkɑ ti/.

a note or passage so played.

Origin of pizzicato

1835–45; < Italian, past participle of pizzicare to pluck, pick, twang (a stringed instrument)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pizzicato

Historical Examples of pizzicato

  • “It is a pizzicato for one instrument,” replied the operator.

    The Violin

    George Dubourg

  • The pizzicato accompaniment of the air fitly suggests a serenade.

  • The pizzicato tuning of a violin is heard through the window.

    Stars of the Opera

    Mabel Wagnalls

  • He invented the tremolo and the pizzicato, and originated the vocal duet.

    For Every Music Lover

    Aubertine Woodward Moore

  • And the third movement is got under way, till we reach a pizzicato passage which Sally begins playing with the bow by mistake.

    Somehow Good

    William de Morgan

British Dictionary definitions for pizzicato


adjective, adverb

(in music for the violin family) to be plucked with the finger


the style or technique of playing a normally bowed stringed instrument in this manner

Word Origin for pizzicato

C19: from Italian: pinched, from pizzicare to twist, twang
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 pizzicato

1845, from Italian pizzicato "plucked," past participle of pizzicare "to pluck (strings), pinch," from pizzare "to prick, to sting," from Old Italian pizzo "point, edge," from Vulgar Latin *pits-, probably of imitative origin. As an adjective from 1880.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper