tenor violin, 1797, from It. viola,
from O.Prov. viola,
from M.L. vitula
"stringed instrument," perhaps from Vitula,
Roman goddess of joy (see fiddle
), or from related L. verb vitulari
"to exult, be joyful." Viola da gamba
"bass viol" (1724) is from It., lit. "a viola for the leg" (i.e. to hold between the legs).