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[fawr-tis-uh-moh; Italian fawr-tees-see-maw] /fɔrˈtɪs əˌmoʊ; Italian fɔrˈtis siˌmɔ/ Music.
(a direction) very loud.
(a direction) very loudly.
Origin of fortissimo
1715-25; < Italian; superlative of forte forte2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fortissimo
Historical Examples
  • Yorkshiremen are keen songsters, and fortissimo is their favourite note of expression.

    The Parish Clerk (1907) Peter Hampson Ditchfield
  • Her defiant speech was like the fortissimo from a full orchestra.

    Painted Veils James Huneker
  • The impression that the surprising presence of the ocean greyhound made upon Frederick was in a fortissimo scale.

    Atlantis Gerhart Hauptmann
  • When I say ‘fortissimo,’ you play fortissimo; when I say ‘allegro,’ you play allegro.

    The Master's Violin Myrtle Reed
  • It certainly has that effect, but I advise it to be used very sparingly and in fortissimo passages only.

  • Allegro and fortissimo had been McAllister's tempo and tone.

  • The composition ended with the words "Winsen, eighteen-hundred seven and forty," sung slowly and fortissimo.

  • It is said that in this piece Paganini produced a tone that dominated the whole orchestra even in fortissimo passages.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • She was part of the refrain—a note in the fortissimo of industry.

    The Underworld James C. Welsh
  • We went through the same process again, only I kept my foot on the vox humana pedal until I had crammed it 'way into fortissimo.

    Of All Things Robert C. Benchley
British Dictionary definitions for fortissimo


adjective, adverb
very loud ff
a very loud passage in music
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, from Latin fortissimus, from fortis strong
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 fortissimo

1724, from Italian fortissimo, superlative of forte "loud, strong," from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fortissimo in Culture
fortissimo [(fawr-tis-uh-moh)]

A musical direction meaning “to be performed very loudly”; the opposite of pianissimo.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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