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[suh-nah-tuh] /səˈnɑ tə/
noun, Music.
a composition for one or two instruments, typically in three or four movements in contrasted forms and keys.
1685-95; < Italian < Latin sonāta, feminine of sonātus (past participle of sonāre to sound1). See sonant, -ate1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sonata
  • Truth and falsity be damned, words stretched into circles dancing on the edge of madness, a sonata of vertigo.
  • Counterpoint is used to elaborate and intensify the thematic argument of sonata form.
  • The people liked the sonata, and they might have raised even more of a rum- pus over it if it hadn't had such an abrupt ending.
British Dictionary definitions for sonata


an instrumental composition, usually in three or more movements, for piano alone (piano sonata) or for any other instrument with or without piano accompaniment (violin sonata, cello sonata, etc) See also sonata form, symphony (sense 1), concerto (sense 1)
a one-movement keyboard composition of the baroque period
Word Origin
C17: from Italian, from sonare to sound, from Latin
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 sonata

1690s, from Italian sonata "piece of instrumental music," literally "sounded" (i.e. "played on an instrument," as opposed to cantata "sung"), fem. past participle of sonare "to sound," from Latin sonare "to sound," from PIE *swene-, from root *swen- "to sound" (see sound (n.1)). Meaning narrowed by mid-18c. toward application to large-scale works in three or four movements.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sonata in Culture
sonata [(suh-nah-tuh)]

A musical composition for one or two instruments, usually in three or four movements. The sonata of the classic era in music had a definite arrangement for its movements: the first and fourth had a fast tempo, the second had a slow tempo, and the third was in either playful style (a “scherzo”) or in dance form (a “minuet”).

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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sonata in Technology
operating system
The code name for the major Mac OS release due in mid-1999.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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