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pianissimo

[pee-uh-nis-uh-moh; Italian pyah-nees-see-maw] /ˌpi əˈnɪs əˌmoʊ; Italian pyɑˈnis siˌmɔ/ Music.
adjective
1.
very soft.
adverb
2.
very softly.
noun, plural pianissimos.
3.
a passage or movement played in this way.
Origin of pianissimo
1715-1725
1715-25; < Italian, superlative of piano piano2
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pianissimo
Historical Examples
  • The two first measures are so pianissimo that we scarcely hear them, but the vague and far-away voices come slowly nearer.

    Stars of the Opera Mabel Wagnalls
  • The pianissimo of choruses and orchestras is seldom soft enough.

    Essentials in Conducting Karl Wilson Gehrkens
  • Yes, I think it IS very sweet—and very solemn and impressive, if you get the andantino and the pianissimo right.

  • At that part there are two pauses in quick succession, the second of which, is pianissimo.

  • Every advantage was afforded her, for only a handful of instruments accompanied her, and these were toned down to pianissimo.

    Letters of Peregrine Pickle George P. Upton
  • It was very rapid, very staccato, and pianissimo all the way through.

  • It begins ravishingly with flutes and clarinets and four violins, pianissimo, followed by a blare of brass.

  • Like all love-songs it is legato, andante, and pianissimo, but at the same time noticeably original and characteristic.

    Stars of the Opera Mabel Wagnalls
  • At first the body of sound seemed overpowering, for there was no pianissimo, and not one of the regular orchestral effects.

    From the Oak to the Olive Julia Ward Howe
  • It is followed by a pianissimo chorus of the guards whispering to each other to “secure the passes round the glen.”

    The Standard Cantatas George P. Upton
British Dictionary definitions for pianissimo

pianissimo

/pɪəˈnɪsɪˌməʊ/
adjective, adverb
1.
(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
adv.

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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