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[fer-mah-tuh; Italian fer-mah-tah] /fɛrˈmɑ tə; Italian fɛrˈmɑ tɑ/
noun, plural fermatas Italian, fermate
[fer-mah-te] /fɛrˈmɑ tɛ/ (Show IPA).
the sustaining of a note, chord, or rest for a duration longer than the indicated time value, with the length of the extension at the performer's discretion.
a symbol placed over a note, chord, or rest indicating a fermata.
Origin of fermata
1875-80; < Italian: stop, pause, noun use of feminine of past participle of fermare to stop < Latin firmāre to make firm. See firm1, -ate1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fermata
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the case of a hold (fermata), the movement for the cut-off depends upon the nature of what follows.

    Essentials in Conducting Karl Wilson Gehrkens
  • A fermata in the middle of a movement does not constitute a break, neither need it at the end.

    The Pianoforte Sonata J.S. Shedlock
  • Dr. Deiters thought that Ries confounded the last with the first movement, in which the clarinet enters after a fermata.

British Dictionary definitions for fermata


noun (pl) -tas, -te (-tɪ)
(music) another word for pause (sense 5)
Word Origin
from Italian, from fermare to stop, from Latin firmāre to establish; see firm1
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 fermata

1876, musical term, Italian, literally "stop, pause," from fermare "to fasten, to stop," from fermo "strong, fastened," from Latin firmus (see firm (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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