Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

Words used to describe music or musical instruments

acoustic

adjective

an acoustic musical instrument does not use electronic equipment to make its sound louder

acoustic

adjective

acoustic music is not made louder with electronic equipment

atonal

adjective

atonal music is not written or played in any one key (=a set of notes)

bass

adjective

written for a bass voice or instrument

bluesy

adjective

bluesy music has the slow sad sound of blues, which developed from the songs of black slaves in the southern US

classical

adjective

relating to classical music

discordant

adjective

discordant music sounds strange because it contains discords

flat

adverb

singing or playing musical notes that are slightly lower than they should be

funky

adjective

funky music has a strong simple beat that is good for dancing

harmonic

adjective

relating to the way that musical notes are combined to create chords

harmonious

adjective

harmonious music consists of notes that combine in a pleasant way

indie

adjective

indie films and music are produced and sold by small independent companies

instrumental

adjective

instrumental music is played by instruments only rather than being sung

jazzy

adjective

jazzy music has a strong lively beat, like jazz

leftfield

adjective

used for describing styles of modern electronica (=music produced using electronic instruments) that are unusual and not very popular

lo-fi

adjective

used for describing electronic music that is produced in a small private recording studio without spending much money

melodic

adjective

relating to the melody (=main tune) of a piece of music

musical

adjective

relating to music

musical

adjective

consisting of music

musically

adverb

in relation to music

off-key

adjective, adverb

music or singing that is off-key does not sound good because the notes are slightly wrong

orchestral

adjective

connected with, written for, or played by an orchestra

philharmonic

adjective

a philharmonic orchestra performs classical music

pizzicato

adverb

if you play a violin or other stringed instrument pizzicato, you play it by pulling the strings with your fingers instead of using the bow

playable

adjective

a piece of music that is playable can be played without much difficulty

polyphonic

adjective

a polyphonic ringtone is a sound that a mobile phone makes when it rings that consists of several notes played together so that it sounds like music

pop

adjective

relating to pop music

progressive

adjective

used for describing music that tries new or unusual ideas, sometimes making it difficult to listen to

sad

adjective

a sad song or piece of music expresses unhappy feelings

session

adjective

a session musician is paid to play with a band or singer making a record in a studio

sharp

adjective

slightly higher than the musical note that should be played or sung

solo

adjective

performed by one musician or instrument

staccato

adjective, adverb

staccato notes are played or sung so that each note is clearly separate

tonal

adjective

relating to music written in a particular key

unaccompanied

adjective

an unaccompanied singer or musician sings or plays alone, without any other instruments or voices

unplugged

adjective

used for describing music played without electric instruments by a musician who usually plays an electric instrument

up-tempo

adjective

up-tempo music has a fast beat

vocal

adjective

relating to the voice, or done with the voice

vocal

adjective

using the voice to express something

vocal

adjective

vocal groups, music, or performances use singing

atonality

noun

atonally

adverb

musicality

noun

dark pool

a method of financial trading in which share prices are hidden and not openly available to the public

BuzzWord Article

Word of the Day

bottom line

the amount of money that a business makes or loses

Open Dictionary

subtweet

to post a tweet, usually a negative one, that mentions a person without using the @ sign, so that they will not see the message on their Twitter feed …

add a word

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog