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[pee-uh-nis-uh-moh; Italian pyah-nees-see-maw] /ˌpi əˈnɪs əˌmoʊ; Italian pyɑˈnis siˌmɔ/ Music.
very soft.
very softly.
noun, plural pianissimos.
a passage or movement played in this way.
Origin of pianissimo
1715-25; < Italian, superlative of piano piano2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pianissimo
  • She was even more impressive when she caressed soulful pianissimo phrases.
  • All night the wind played its wild fugue, dropping to pianissimo lulls, then rising to frenetic crescendos.
  • For the first time in the history of recorded sound, it was possible to hear the entire span from pianissimo to triple forte.
British Dictionary definitions for pianissimo


adjective, adverb
(music) (to be performed) very quietly pp
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, superlative of piano soft
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 pianissimo

1724, from Italian pianissimo "very softly," from Latin pianissimus, superlative of pianus (see piano).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pianissimo in Culture
pianissimo [(pee-uh-nis-uh-moh)]

A musical direction meaning “to be performed very softly”; the opposite of fortissimo.

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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