Definition of symphony in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɪmf(ə)ni/

noun (plural symphonies)

1An elaborate musical composition for full orchestra, typically in four movements, at least one of which is traditionally in sonata form: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
More example sentences
  • He was a prolific composer, writing symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and dramatic works.
  • Joseph Haydn's Scherzandi are bite-size symphonies in four movements, each seven or eight minutes in length.
  • His 1781 discovery of the planet Uranus has overshadowed his musical compositions (18 symphonies, two viola and one oboe concerto, nine sonatas and various keyboard and vocal music).
1.1chiefly historical An orchestral interlude in a large-scale vocal work.
1.2chiefly North American (especially in names of orchestras) short for symphony orchestra. the Boston Symphony
More example sentences
  • Now they play fifteen to twenty concerts a year together, while Misha plays ninety to 100 other engagements as soloist, chamber musician or with symphonies.
  • He now travels the world performing with renowned symphonies and conductors.
  • His works have been performed by symphonies in Akron, Springfield and Cleveland, Ohio, as well as the Warsaw Philharmonic.
1.3Something regarded as a composition of different elements: autumn is a symphony of texture and pattern
More example sentences
  • The leaves of the trees were of different colors, offering a symphony of tones that only I seemed to hear.
  • Both serious wine connoisseurs, Graf and Rydman collaborated with the chairs and bistro moderne chef Philippe Schmidt on a symphony of food and wine that had patrons swooning.
  • In the Glasgow of my childhood I woke to a symphony of glass, metal and steam.


Middle English (denoting any of various instruments such as the dulcimer or the virginal): from Old French symphonie, via Latin from Greek sumphōnia, from sumphōnos 'harmonious', from sun- 'together' + phōnē 'sound'.

  • cacophony from mid 17th century:

    The word cacophony, meaning ‘a harsh discordant combination of sounds’, came via French from Greek kakophonia. Kakos was Greek for ‘bad’, and phōnē meant ‘sound’—it is the root of words like euphonious ( see euphemism), symphony (Middle English) ‘harmonious sound’, and telephone ( see telegraph).

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