Definitions

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

  • adj. Played by plucking rather than bowing the strings.
  • n. A pizzicato note or passage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. An instruction to players of stringed instruments to pluck the strings instead of using the bow. Abbreviation: pizz.
  • n. A stretch of music that is played pizzicato

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A direction to violinists to pluck the string with the finger, instead of using the bow. (Abrev. pizz.)

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music for stringed instruments of the viol family, noting the manner of playing, or the effect produced, when the strings are plucked or twanged by the finger, as in harp-playing, instead of sounded by means of the bow.

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

  • n. a note or passage that is played pizzicato
  • adj. (of instruments in the violin family) to be plucked with the finger
  • adv. with a light plucking staccato sound

Etymologies

Italian, past participle of pizzicare, to pluck, from pizzare, to prick, from pizzo, point.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Italian, past participle of pizzicare, to pluck. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This mode of playing is called pizzicato or plucking.

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  • When playing upon a soft combination on the Great, the organist may draw the Swell to Great "pizzicato" coupler.

    The Recent Revolution in Organ Building Being an Account of Modern Developments

  • The greenish-yellow hair looked dull gold by lamplight; her eyes gleamed blackly from their blue crystallized lids (the bath of indigo being a stage device known to all devotees of the art), and her dancing, which immediately commenced to her own castanets and a subdued "pizzicato" from the two violins, was original and graceful, and free from any taint of vulgarity.

    Ringfield A Novel

  • A word that had the audience groaning - except, of course, the symphony team - was "pizzicato"

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  • The pizzicato alone was worth the price of admission but the gorgeous sound of the brass was equally remarkable.

    Oh, Vienna

  • The second scherzo-like movement had syncopated, imitative strokes between the piano and oboe, with pouncing dissonances and pizzicato obbligati on the strings.

    Rodney Punt: World Premiere by Peter Golub at Chamber Music Palisades

  • Ma, often leaning back in his chair with artful reverie, delivered his held notes, flourishes of pizzicato and snatches of folk-inspired melody with conviction and lyricism.

    Die Frau ohne Schatten; BBC Proms 61 & 62 – review

  • Then three slowly descending pizzicato notes in the basses and cellos lead to the first full statement of the famous theme by the violins and cellos, first horn and first bassoon, now underscored by a luscious harp chord on the fourth note.

    The Waltz That Defines Vienna

  • In the end it was skilfully judged, and the blend of real sounds – such as the gramophones that would have played on the ship, the Terra Nova, as well as a recording of the ship's bell – and sparse musical scoring seemed to respect the idea of silence while making sound (even during the passages of pizzicato playfulness while Ponting did his Johnny Morris routine with the animals).

    The disquieting sound of The Great White Silence

  • The imaginary instrument of one dream takes real form as voiced by muted viola and pizzicato cello.

    The Music of His Dreams

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Comments

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  • "Stephen walked over to his 'cello and sitting on the stern-window locker he played over the Rakes of Kerry in pizzicato. 'You should hear that at some far grassy crossroads on a fine Beltane night with the fire on the hill and the pipes playing and five fiddles and the young men dancing as though they were possessed and the young women as demure as mice but never missing a step.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, 261

    March 9, 2008

  • I'm reminded of a teacher I once had. She would utter this word with particular aplomb.

    September 2, 2007