Definition of fermata in US English:



  • 1A pause of unspecified length on a note or rest.

    • ‘In movement four there should be a fermata over the last cluster in line two.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, most editors have tried to ‘correct’ Bach's ‘inconsistencies’ by adding fermatas where Bach did not indicate them.’
    • ‘More specifically, Variations 16 and 17, which have no fermata between them, function as the midpoint, and to either side lie three singles, four groups (either as pairs or groups of three), two singles and Aria.’
    • ‘The rests, fermatas and sudden dynamic changes help to provide an element of surprise.’
    1. 1.1 A mark over a note or rest that is to be lengthened by an unspecified amount.
      • ‘This also differs from the piano part in the transcription as the piano part indicates the fermata.’
      • ‘Many of the extremely slow and lightening fast tempos we have become so accustomed to are automatically invalidated simply by honoring Bach's fermatas and implied tempo relationships.’
      • ‘Here is a pianist who not only understands the power of quiescence, but celebrates it: no silence is taken for granted, no pianissimo is abused for something it is not, no fermata is dismissed as excessive or unnecessary.’
      • ‘The final two bars, with their fermatas and sforzandos, are much more theatrical and formidable than Schubert's.’


Italian, from fermare ‘to stop’.