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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


sounds made by voices or instruments arranged in a way that is pleasant to listen to

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun music is borrowed from words in Latin and French. It has been used in English with various spellings since the 14th century.


Sunday was the feast day of Cecilia, an early Christian martyr who is the patron saint of music. While music is hard to define, it is easy to recognize and enjoy, although there are a very few people who are completely indifferent to it. Such people are said to experience musical anhedonia, an inability to feel pleasure in things that most people regard as pleasurable. Something you are pleased to hear is said to be music to your ears.  As you would expect, music forms part of a very large number of compound nouns, which you can explore by clicking on the links in the box on the right of the entry. There are many thesaurus entries focused on music, including Musical soundsParts of pieces of music, Notes in the musical scale and Musical instruments. You can access these entries by clicking on the links you will find at the bottom of each thesaurus entry. Music is one of many entries in Macmillan Dictionary that has recently been enhanced by the addition of the Collocations Dictionary. You can find out more about the collocates of music here.


“Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions To all musicians, appear and inspire.”
(Hymn to Saint Cecilia, W. H. Auden)

All the good music‘s already been written by people with wigs and stuff.
(Attributed to Frank Zappa)

Related Words

discord, dissonance, harmony, rhythm

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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