One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A symbol used in a canon, fugue, etc., to mark the entry of a voice or instrument.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Short Explication of Foreign Words in Musick Books. From Italian presa, probably a specifically sense of presa handle (although this is apparently first attested later: 1677), act of taking, use as noun of feminine of past participle of prendere to take.
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