1. The prolongation of a tone, chord, or rest beyond its indicated time value.
2. The sign indicating this prolongation.
[Italian, from feminine past participle of fermare, to stop, from Latin firmāre, to make firm, from firmus, firm; see dher- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)fermata
from St. Matthew Passion (1729) by
Johann Sebastian Bach
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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