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tenor violin, 1797, from Italian viola, from Old Provençal viola, from Medieval Latin vitula "stringed instrument," perhaps from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy (see fiddle), or from related Latin verb vitulari "to exult, be joyful." Viola da gamba "bass viol" (1724) is from Italian, literally "a viola for the leg" (i.e. to hold between the legs).