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[stuh-kah-toh] /stəˈkɑ toʊ/
shortened and detached when played or sung:
staccato notes.
characterized by performance in which the notes are abruptly disconnected:
a staccato style of playing.
Compare legato.
composed of or characterized by abruptly disconnected elements; disjointed:
rapid-fire, staccato speech.
in a staccato manner.
noun, plural staccatos, staccati
[stuh-kah-tee] /stəˈkɑ ti/ (Show IPA)
performance in a staccato manner.
a staccato passage.
Origin of staccato
1715-25; < Italian: disconnected, past participle of staccare (derivative of stacca pole < Gothic, but taken as a variant of distaccare to detach) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for staccato
  • We see a group of three, their round, discus-style dorsal fins splitting the water in a staccato pace.
  • Along the way, there's plenty of vicious fighting and a staccato, exciting pace.
  • So do certain staccato scenes so intense that they need to be set off by theatrical blackouts, not by ordinary screen editing.
  • We investigated the effect of legato and staccato articulation styles on the perception of modulated tempos.
  • From down in the orchestra pit comes a sudden staccato beat-beat-beat as a trio of sailors bursts onto the stage.
  • Behind him, he heard the staccato rattle of a squirrel bounding through dry leaves.
  • The woodpecker moves from tree to tree in search of insects, drumming a staccato beat on the tall trees' trunks.
  • Student is also able to respond to legato and staccato markings.
  • When operating, it produces a distinctive staccato sound.
  • In the composition's trio section, one can hear the percussion beating out a staccato rhythm meant to recall machine gun fire.
British Dictionary definitions for staccato


(music) (of notes) short, clipped, and separate
characterized by short abrupt sounds, as in speech: a staccato command
(esp used as a musical direction) in a staccato manner
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, from staccare to detach, shortened from distaccare
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 staccato

1724, from Italian staccato, literally "detached, disconnected," from past participle of staccare "to detach," shortened form of distaccare "separate, detach," from Middle French destacher, from Old French destachier "to detach" (see detach).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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staccato in Culture
staccato [(stuh-kah-toh)]

A direction in music meaning that the notes should be performed in an abrupt, sharp, clear-cut manner.

Note: The term staccato has been applied generally to things that occur in rapid bursts, such as gunfire.
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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