Definition of sextet in English:

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Pronunciation: /sekˈstet/
(also sextette)


1A group of six people playing music or singing together.
Example sentences
  • Although a number of composers have written concertos for it, it shines best in the orchestra, with many effective solos, and as a chamber-music instrument in wind quintets, sextets, and octets and other ensembles.
  • (For example, a woodwind quintet might add a piano and become a sextet, or a string quartet might be reduced to a string trio.).
  • At the same time, she continued to participate in chamber music, and founded a sextet in 1974.
1.1A composition for a sextet.
Example sentences
  • He is composing a straight sextet for principals of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, has premiered a ballet in Vienna and has been welcomed at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM, crucible of ascetic futurism.
  • A sextet, the piece opens with the figures in silhouette, three stretched out on the floor and three standing - one behind the other at first, so the unfolding of a single totem into discrete, rushing bodies is astonishing and eerie.
  • This latter duet culminates in Enrico's discovery of Anna's supposed infidelity, and the succeeding sextet rivals the parallel ensemble in Lucia di Lammermoor if nor for melody then for skill of construction.
1.2A set of six people or things: a sextet of new releases


Mid 19th century: alteration of sestet, suggested by Latin sex 'six'.

  • six from Middle English:

    The number six is Old English, but comes from the same ancient root as Latin sex and Greek hexa ‘six’. These gave us sextet (mid 19th century), sextuple (mid 16th century), hexagon (late 16th century), and similar words ( compare seven). In cricket a six is a hit that sends the ball clear over to the boundary without first striking the ground, scoring six runs. The ball needs to be struck hard to go that far, and this is the image behind the expression to knock for six, ‘to utterly surprise or overcome’, recorded from the beginning of the 20th century. A form of the phrase also occurs as to hit for six, which tends to have the slightly different meaning of ‘to affect very severely’. The origins of at sixes and sevens, ‘in a state of total confusion and disarray’, lie in gambling with dice. The phrase first occurs in Geoffrey Chaucer's poem Troilus and Criseyde, in the version to set on six and seven. It is most likely that the phrase was an alteration of the Old French words for five and six, cinque and sice, these being the highest numbers on a dice. The ‘inflation’ of the numbers probably came about either because people who did not know French misheard the words, or as a jokey exaggeration. The idea was that betting on the possibility of these two numbers coming up was the height of recklessness, and could result in your whole world falling apart. A man's six-pack is his toned midriff—the abdominal muscle is crossed by three bands of fibre which look like a set of six separate muscles if the person is slim and fit. The original six-pack is associated more with couch-potatoes, as it is a pack of six cans of beer held together with a plastic fastener.

Words that rhyme with sextet

abet, aiguillette, anisette, Annette, Antoinette, arête, Arlette, ate, baguette, banquette, barbette, barrette, basinet, bassinet, beget, Bernadette, beset, bet, Bette, blanquette, Brett, briquette, brochette, brunette (US brunet), Burnett, cadet, caravanette, cassette, castanet, charette, cigarette (US cigaret), clarinet, Claudette, Colette, coquette, corvette, couchette, courgette, croquette, curette, curvet, Debrett, debt, dinette, diskette, duet, epaulette (US epaulet), flageolet, flannelette, forget, fret, galette, gazette, Georgette, get, godet, grisette, heavyset, Jeanette, jet, kitchenette, La Fayette, landaulet, launderette, layette, lazaret, leatherette, let, Lett, lorgnette, luncheonette, lunette, Lynette, maisonette, majorette, maquette, Marie-Antoinette, marionette, Marquette, marquisette, martinet, met, minaret, minuet, moquette, motet, musette, Nanette, net, noisette, nonet, novelette, nymphet, octet, Odette, on-set, oubliette, Paulette, pet, Phuket, picquet, pillaret, pincette, pipette, piquet, pirouette, planchette, pochette, quartet, quickset, quintet, regret, ret, Rhett, roomette, rosette, roulette, satinette, septet, serviette, sestet, set, sett, silhouette, soubrette, spinet, spinneret, statuette, stet, stockinet, sublet, suffragette, Suzette, sweat, thickset, threat, Tibet, toilette, tret, underlet, upset, usherette, vedette, vet, vignette, vinaigrette, wagonette, wet, whet, winceyette, yet, Yvette

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sex·tet

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