Student Dictionary

2 entries found for orchestra.
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Main Entry: or·ches·tra
Pronunciation: primarystressodotr-kschwa-strschwa, -secondarystresskes-trschwa
Function: noun
Etymology: from Latin orchestra "the place in front of the stage where prominent persons sit," from Greek orchemacronstra "a semicircular area in front of the stage of a theater where the chorus dances," from orcheisthai "to dance"
1 : the front part of the main floor of a theater
2 : a group of musicians who perform instrumental music using mostly stringed instruments
Word History In front of the ancient Greek stage was a semicircular space where a chorus danced, sang, and commented on the action of the play. The Greek word orchemacronstra referred to this space. It came from the verb orcheisthai, meaning "to dance." The word was borrowed into Latin, but the Roman orchestra was reserved for the seats of prominent persons, such as senators, instead of for a chorus. When English borrowed the word, it indicated the space occupied by a group of musicians, usually right in front of the stage. It also was used to refer to the group of musicians itself. Later, orchestra came to mean the forward part or all of the main floor of a theater.

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