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[awr-kuh-streyt] /ˈɔr kəˌstreɪt/
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), orchestrated, orchestrating.
to compose or arrange (music) for performance by an orchestra.
to arrange or manipulate, especially by means of clever or thorough planning or maneuvering:
to orchestrate a profitable trade agreement.
Origin of orchestrate
1875-80; < French orchestr(er) (derivative of orchestre orchestra) + -ate1
Related forms
orchestration, noun
orchestrator, orchestrater, noun
overorchestrate, verb, overorchestrated, overorchestrating.
reorchestrate, verb, reorchestrated, reorchestrating.
reorchestration, noun
unorchestrated, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for orchestrate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The three remaining movements are very simple, and it will be pleasant and easy to orchestrate them.

  • My work with Rimsky-Korsakov consisted of his giving me pieces of classical music to orchestrate.

    An Autobiography Igor Stravinsky
  • He opined that Wagner did not know how to compose nor how to orchestrate; he found the music lacking in warmth.

    Richard Wagner John F. Runciman
  • We agreed that I should orchestrate two parts of the opera and write the final chorus, while he undertook the rest.

    An Autobiography Igor Stravinsky
  • This is perhaps the reason why it now takes me three days to orchestrate a thing that I could formerly have finished in one.

  • True, there remained three acts to compose and orchestrate—but what was that to a Richard Wagner!

    Richard Wagner John F. Runciman
British Dictionary definitions for orchestrate


verb (transitive)
to score or arrange (a piece of music) for orchestra
to arrange, organize, or build up for special or maximum effect
Derived Forms
orchestration, noun
orchestrator, noun
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 orchestrate

"to compose or arrange (music) for an orchestra," 1855, back-formation from orchestration. The figurative sense is attested from 1883. Related: Orchestrated; orchestrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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