[fer-mah-tuh; Italian fer-mah-tah]
noun, plural fermatas Italian, fermate [fer-mah-te] . Music.
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.

1875–80; < Italian: stop, pause, noun use of feminine of past participle of fermare to stop < Latin firmāre to make firm. See firm1, -ate1

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World English Dictionary
fermata (fəˈmɑːtə)
n , pl -tas, -te
music another word for pause
[from Italian, from fermare to stop, from Latin firmāre to establish; see firm1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1876, musical term, from It., lit. "stop, pause," from fermare "to fasten, to stop," from fermo "strong, fastened," from L. firmus (see firm (adj.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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