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[ahn-sahm-buh l, -sahmb; French ahn-sahn-bluh] /ɑnˈsɑm bəl, -ˈsɑmb; French ɑ̃ˈsɑ̃ blə/
noun, plural ensembles
[ahn-sahm-sahm-buh lz, -sahmbz; French ahn-sahn-bluh] /ɑnˈsɑmˈsɑm bəlz, -ˈsɑmbz; French ɑ̃ˈsɑ̃ blə/ (Show IPA)
all the parts of a thing taken together, so that each part is considered only in relation to the whole.
the entire costume of an individual, especially when all the parts are in harmony:
She was wearing a beautiful ensemble by one of the French designers.
a set of furniture.
  1. the united performance of an entire group of singers, musicians, etc.
  2. the group so performing:
    a string ensemble.
a group of supporting entertainers, as actors, dancers, and singers, in a theatrical production.
Origin of ensemble
1740-50; < French: together < Latin insimul, equivalent to in- in-2 + simul together; see simultaneous
1. totality, entirety, aggregate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ensemble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Our personality is an ensemble of our ancestral characteristics.

    Painted Veils James Huneker
  • Multiply these details ad libitum and you will get the ensemble.

  • And such a violinist as the one mentioned, in spite of his tone and technic, was never meant for an ensemble player.

    Violin Mastery Frederick H. Martens
  • He did not care in the least whom he talked to; it was the ensemble that interested him.

    Black Oxen Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • Considered in their ensemble, the several groups of evidences assigned amount almost to proof.

British Dictionary definitions for ensemble


/ɒnˈsɒmbəl; French ɑ̃sɑ̃blə/
all the parts of something considered together and in relation to the whole
a person's complete costume; outfit
  1. the cast of a play other than the principals; supporting players
  2. (as modifier): an ensemble role
  1. a group of soloists singing or playing together
  2. (as modifier): an ensemble passage
(music) the degree of precision and unity exhibited by a group of instrumentalists or singers performing together: the ensemble of the strings is good
the general or total effect of something made up of individual parts
  1. a set of systems (such as a set of collections of atoms) that are identical in all respects apart from the motions of their constituents
  2. a single system (such as a collection of atoms) in which the properties are determined by the statistical behaviour of its constituents
all together or at once
(of a film or play) involving several separate but often interrelated story lines: ensemble comedy drama
involving no individual star but several actors whose roles are of equal importance: fine ensemble playing
Word Origin
C15: from French: together, from Latin insimul, from in-² + simul at the same time
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ensemble

mid-15c., as an adverb, "together, at the same time," from Middle French ensemblée "all the parts of a thing considered together," from Late Latin insimul "at the same time," from in- intensive prefix + simul "at the same time," related to similis (see similar). The noun is from 1703, "parts of a thing taken together;" musical sense in English first attested 1844. Of women's dress and accessories, from 1927.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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