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

  • n. A musical instrument with a manual keyboard actuating hammers that strike wire strings, producing sounds that may be softened or sustained by means of pedals.
  • adv. In a soft or quiet tone. Used chiefly as a direction.
  • n. A passage to be played softly or quietly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A keyboard musical instrument, usually ranging over seven octaves, with white and black keys, played by pressing these keys, causing hammers to strike strings.
  • adj. Soft, quiet.
  • adj. In extended use; quiet, subdued.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Soft; -- a direction to the performer to execute a certain passage softly, and with diminished volume of tone. (Abbrev. p.)
  • n. A well-known musical instrument somewhat resembling the harpsichord, and consisting of a series of wires of graduated length, thickness, and tension, struck by hammers moved by keys.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, soft; with little force or loudness: opposed to forte. Usually abbreviated p.
  • Softly; in a low tone or voice. Abbreviated p.
  • n. A passage or series of notes sung or played softly; a soft or gentle tone.
  • n. A pianoforte.
  • n. In Italian, a story; a floor; the French étage: in English, used only in such borrowed phrases as piano nobile, the principal story; pian' terreno, a ground floor.

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

  • adj. used chiefly as a direction or description in music
  • n. (music) low loudness
  • adv. used as a direction in music; to be played relatively softly
  • n. a keyboard instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds


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

Italian, short for pianoforte; see pianoforte.
Italian, from Late Latin plānus, smooth, graceful, from Latin, flat; see pelə-2 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Short form of pianoforte, from Italian piano ("soft") + forte ("strong"). So named because older keyboard instruments, notably the harpsichord and the clavier, could not produce varied volumes.


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  • Spy lingo for a spy radio. The spy using it is called a pianist.

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