November 12, 2013
orchestra (noun)
\OR-kuh-struh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a group of musicians who perform instrumental music using mostly stringed instruments2 : the front part of the main floor of a theater
How do you use it?
Lucinda was excited to hear the orchestra play, especially since her cousin had just gotten a seat as its newest violinist.
Are you a word wiz?

"Orchestra" was borrowed into English from Latin, which had earlier borrowed it from Greek. What do you think the Greek root meant?

"Orchestra" came from the Greek verb "orcheisthai," meaning "to dance." In an ancient Greek theater, the orchestra was a semicircular space in front of a stage where a chorus sang, danced, and commented on the action of plays. When Latin speakers borrowed the word, they changed its meaning slightly because they used the space directly in front of the stage to seat prominent people, such as senators, instead of musicians. English speakers have been using "orchestra" since the early 1600s, and the word's modern uses clearly hark back to its original Greek and Latin meanings.
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