Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something in which a person excels.
  • n. The strong part of a sword blade, between the middle and the hilt.
  • adv. In a loud, forceful manner. Used chiefly as a direction.
  • n. A note, passage, or chord played forte.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A passage in music to be played loudly; a loud section of music.
  • adv. loudly
  • n. A strength or talent.
  • n. The strong part of a sword blade, close to the hilt.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Loudly; strongly; powerfully.
  • n. The strong point; that in which one excels.
  • n. The stronger part of the blade of a sword; the part of half nearest the hilt; -- opposed to foible.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, loud; with force: opposed to piano: used also as if an adverb. Abbreviated feminine
  • n. In music, a passage that is loud and forcible or is intended to be so.
  • n. In harmonium-making, a slide or cover in the chest containing one or more sets of reeds, so arranged as to be opened by a stop-knob or a knee-lever and thus to produce a forte effect. Frequently separate fortes are introduced for the treble and the bass ends of the keyboard.
  • n. The strong part of a sword-blade or rapier, as opposed to the foible. Also spelled fort.
  • n. That in which one excels; a peculiar talent or faculty; a strong point or side; chief excellence.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. used chiefly as a direction or description in music
  • n. the stronger part of a sword blade between the hilt and the foible
  • adv. used as a direction in music; to be played relatively loudly
  • n. (music) loud
  • n. an asset of special worth or utility

Etymologies

French fort, from Old French, strong, from Latin fortis; see fort.
Italian, strong, forte, from Latin fortis; see bhergh-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French fort ("strong"), from Latin fortis ("strong"). (Wiktionary)
From Italian forte ("strong"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • pronounced fort when strength or talent

    pronounced forte when loud sound in music

    September 21, 2013

  • I think I side with The Orthoepist (see the Pronunciations page for this word). I learned the one-syllable version from a former professor of English, but most of my other friends try to correct me when I use it that way.

    For a usage example, see bunbury.

    April 3, 2011

  • The first definition of "forte," something at which a person excels, is pronounced "fort" not "fortay." There should be some way to indicate that.

    May 20, 2009

  • As a French major, I have to side with the one-syllable.

    May 9, 2009

  • Sionnach, did you grow up saying (and hearing people say) one-syllable forte? I wonder if the one- vs. two-syllable divide is based on class distinctions or perhaps on the transatlantic rift, or both?

    March 30, 2009

  • See the giving tree initial rant.

    March 30, 2009

  • Well argued, Q.! I am an overly educated guy who is thought to be quite articulate and knowledgeable about languages, and I have always said this word with two syllables, with the stress on the first. But a couple of months ago someone whose opinion on such matters I respect said that it should be pronounced as one syllable when it meant "area of particular strength". But I don't believe that I have ever heard anyone say the word that way in the past thirty years. And I am sure that I and my educated friends have all said it disyllabically. Thanks for the confirmation.

    But this makes me wonder: is this campaign to get people to say forte monosyllabically a recent fad? Is this a new bugbear?

    March 30, 2009

  • Disyllabic pronunciation in all meanings: to pronounce common words differently from your neighbours is pedantry and ignorance. The English word is a blend of French and Italian, getting its spelling and pronunciation from Italian but its (primary) meaning from French.

    The French for a strong point, in particular the strong point of a sword (as opposed to 'foible', the weak point) is fort fɔR, masculine.

    As with numerous English words (locale, morale etc.), once it was borrowed into English it subsequently acquired an extra -e in the belief that this made it look more French.

    The assimilation in pronunciation to the Italian-derived musical term forte is surely complete. The OED gives the pronunciations as (fɔːti, fɔːteɪ, formerly fɔːt), and I doubt anyone has said it as a monosyllable for many decades except those who have read someone else claiming that it was one. (I used to be one of those myself, in my ignorance, before I understood how language actually works.)

    I have just edited out of some text the spelling forté, a natural next progression in confusing the two source languages.

    March 30, 2009

  • When used in music it is from the Italian and partakes of two syllables.

    When used as a synonym for something one is good at it derives from the French through the sport of fencing, and only has one.

    This is really not that difficult. This however continues to be one of the stock stupidities that people commonly refuse to correct because "everyone else does it that way". Well, everyone else who's uneducated, at least.

    March 18, 2009

  • Found this interesting video on this word http://www.hotforwords.com/2008/10/09/forte-pronunciation/. Also uses nounized.

    October 29, 2008

  • In fencing, the strong part of the blade, nearest the guard.

    February 6, 2007

  • My husband & I have an ongoing argument about this one...I prefer "fawr-tey," and he prefers "fohrt." Good times at our house :)

    January 5, 2007

  • Not that difficult to pronounce! Please, just try a little harder.

    January 5, 2007