Definition of pizzicato in English:



  • (often as a direction) plucking the strings of a violin or other stringed instrument with one's finger.

    • ‘Bassists should also include four 2-octave major scales and four 2-octave minor scales; two of each should be played arco, two of each should be played pizzicato.’


  • Performed pizzicato.

    ‘an inspired pizzicato movement by the Philharmonic strings’
    • ‘‘Sam’ and ‘Two Rocks and a Cup of Water’ are magical pizzicato lullabies, intricate and tender, but with a razor-edged sweetness that manages not to be sentimental.’
    • ‘The song was difficult to perform, with complicated pizzicato parts and arpeggios, requiring swift and flexible movements.’
    • ‘The first movement's imitations came alive and the pizzicato second movement was coloured with delicate charm.’
    • ‘A section for pizzicato strings suspended over creepy melodic lines for piano and Celesta seemed to turn the orchestra into a giant, threatening insect.’
    • ‘The slow movement ‘Aria,’ finely adumbrated by pizzicato bass at the scherzo's end, is a grave conversation among the string sections and their principals.’


mass nounMusic
  • 1The technique of playing pizzicato.

    • ‘His playing is as imaginative and unpredictable as the source texts, flitting from bowed lyricism to mysterious pizzicato to downright scary scraping.’
    • ‘The orchestration is again brilliant, with particularly effective use of trumpets, pizzicato, string moto perpetuo, harp, and glockenspiel.’
    • ‘For example, in the A-minor concerto, the contrasting use of pizzicato versus arco with the same thematic material is a happy surprise, guaranteed to raise a smile.’
    • ‘But elasticity was put to quite different use at the start of the rondo: in an exaggeration of tempo di menuetto, the strings' pizzicato sounded rather like the snapping of rubber bands.’
    • ‘Many of the most demanding techniques of the present-day violinist are associated primarily with him, including ‘ricochet’ bowing, left-hand pizzicato, and double-stop harmonics.’
    1. 1.1count noun A note or passage played pizzicato.
      • ‘These elements were even more evocatively combined in the especially atmospheric penultimate song, ‘After a hundred years’, where the mellifluous voice was enveloped by the piano's sustained octaves and fifths and string pizzicati.’
      • ‘Whether the soft pizzicatos made it to the audience all the way in the back is doubtful.’
      • ‘A whirlwind of a third movement, with its Bartók pizzicati, brought something of the sound world of the last movement of the Barber Violin Concerto.’
      • ‘Their willingness to instill the piece with spirit is the great strength of the performance, though it sometimes leads them to overpluck the pizzicato of the second movement.’
      • ‘I would disapprove only of the needlessly dry string pizzicatos at the first suggestion of the variations' sicilienne-like theme.’


Italian, literally ‘pinched, twitched’, past participle of pizzicare, based on pizza ‘point, edge’.