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

  • adv. In soft tones, so as not to be overheard; in an undertone: "There were aspersions cast, sotto voce, but knees quickly folded into curtsies when introductions were in order” ( Barbara Lazear Ascher).
  • adv. Music In very soft tones. Used chiefly as a direction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. In soft tones; quiet.
  • adj. soft (can be used of instruments other than the voice, such as pianos)
  • adv. (speaking) quietly
  • adv. (spoken or played) softly (can be used of instruments other than the voice, such as pianos)
  • n. A direction in a score that a passage in a piece should be played softly (or sung 'under the voice', when applied to vocal music).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • With a restrained voice or moderate force; in an undertone.
  • Spoken low or in an undertone.

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

  • adv. in an undertone


Italian : sotto, under + voce, voice.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian, literally "low voice". (Wiktionary)


Sorry, no example sentences found.


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  • "'Everybody's a goddam critic,' Susannah said sotto voce." From Wizard and Glass by Stephen King.

    January 11, 2011

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  • Sotto voce (literally "under voice"), an Italian expression, means to speak under one's breath or to speak confidentially. In music, a dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental tone -- not necessarily pianissimo, but with a hushed quality. May also denote muttering in theatrical or film scripts. Actual translation means "Soft Voice".

    February 10, 2008