shortened and detached when played or sung: staccato notes.
characterized by performance in which the notes are abruptly disconnected: a staccato style of playing.Compare legato.
composed of or characterized by abruptly disconnected elements; disjointed: rapid-fire, staccato speech.


in a staccato manner.

noun, plural stac·ca·tos, stac·ca·ti [stuh-kah-tee] /stəˈkɑ ti/.

performance in a staccato manner.
a staccato passage.

Origin of staccato

1715–25; < Italian: disconnected, past participle of staccare (derivative of stacca pole < Gothic, but taken as a variant of distaccare to detach) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for staccato

Contemporary Examples of staccato

Historical Examples of staccato

  • I dashed into my room but Meg's staccato reached me even there.

  • Whatever of despair he felt did not appear in his staccato orders.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Almost simultaneously the air resounded with staccato bursts.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • His face was set and his voice as he greeted O'Moy sharp and staccato.

    The Snare

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The ticking of the clock and the snapping of the fire mingled in a staccato duet.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

British Dictionary definitions for staccato



music (of notes) short, clipped, and separate
characterized by short abrupt sounds, as in speecha staccato command


(esp used as a musical direction) in a staccato manner

Word Origin for staccato

C18: from Italian, from staccare to detach, shortened from distaccare
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 staccato

1724, from Italian staccato, literally "detached, disconnected," from past participle of staccare "to detach," shortened form of distaccare "separate, detach," from Middle French destacher, from Old French destachier "to detach" (see detach).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

staccato in Culture



A direction in music meaning that the notes should be performed in an abrupt, sharp, clear-cut manner.


The term staccato has been applied generally to things that occur in rapid bursts, such as gunfire.
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.