staccato

[stuh-kah-toh]
adjective
1.
shortened and detached when played or sung: staccato notes.
2.
characterized by performance in which the notes are abruptly disconnected: a staccato style of playing. Compare legato.
3.
composed of or characterized by abruptly disconnected elements; disjointed: rapid-fire, staccato speech.
adverb
4.
in a staccato manner.
noun, plural staccatos, staccati [stuh-kah-tee] .
5.
performance in a staccato manner.
6.
a staccato passage.

Origin:
1715–25; < Italian: disconnected, past participle of staccare (derivative of stacca pole < Gothic, but taken as a variant of distaccare to detach)

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World English Dictionary
staccato (stəˈkɑːtəʊ)
 
adj
1.  music (of notes) short, clipped, and separate
2.  characterized by short abrupt sounds, as in speech: a staccato command
 
adv
3.  (esp used as a musical direction) in a staccato manner
 
[C18: from Italian, from staccare to detach, shortened from distaccare]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

staccato
1724, from It. staccato, lit. "detached, disconnected," from pp. of staccare "to detach," shortened form of distaccare "separate, detach," from M.Fr. destacher, from O.Fr. destachier "to detach" (see detach).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Example sentences
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.
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