[ skert-soh ]

noun,plural scher·zos, scher·zi [skert-see]. /ˈskɛrt si/. Music.
  1. a movement or passage of light or playful character, especially as the second or third movement of a sonata or a symphony.

Origin of scherzo

First recorded in 1850–55; from Italian: literally, “joke,” derivative of scherzare “to joke,” of Langobardic origin (compare German Scherz “a joke, jest”)

Words Nearby scherzo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use scherzo in a sentence

  • They had to make decisions, like determining whether a sketch indicated the starting point of a scherzo, which is a very lively part of the symphony, typically in the third movement.

    An AI finished Beethoven’s final symphony. But is it good? | Ahmed Elgammal/The Conversation | September 26, 2021 | Popular-Science
  • The scherzo is neither good nor bad; the trio is so innocent that it would be almost too infantile for a Sniegourotchka.

  • A note in his handwriting states that they were addressed to no one in particular, and that they were merely a poetical scherzo.

    Byron | Richard Edgcumbe
  • And then what does that irritating Lætitia Wilson do but say suddenly, "I'm quite ready for the scherzo, dear, if you are."

    Somehow Good | William de Morgan
  • A very familiar, yet always fresh and intensely interesting composition is this scherzo.

British Dictionary definitions for scherzo


/ (ˈskɛətsəʊ) /

nounplural -zos or -zi (-tsiː)
  1. a brisk lively movement, developed from the minuet, with a contrastive middle section (a trio): See minuet (def. 2)

Origin of scherzo

Italian: joke, of Germanic origin; compare Middle High German scherzen to jest

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