One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An instruction indicating that the section of music marked is to be played on the first time through only, and not on the repeat.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in The New English Dictionary. Apparently from Italian prima volta (although this is apparently not recorded in dictionaries of Italian) from prima, feminine of primo first + volta turn.
prima volta/ˌpriːmə ˈvɒltə/
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