Word of the Day


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the music that is played during a film or television programme, or a CD of this music

Origin and usage

The word soundtrack is a combination of the Latin word ‘sonus’ meaning ‘noise’ and the Old French word ‘trac’ meaning ‘trace’. It was first used to describe the music played during a film or television programme around 1929.


Soundtrack refers to the collection of songs and musical arrangements played during a movie or television show. A soundtrack can include original songs with lyrics written specifically for the programme, as well as popular songs or instrumental music without words or singing.
As the popularity of films has increased, so has people’s desire to own the music from their favourite movies and TV shows. It is now common for soundtrack CDs containing all the songs played during a particular film or show to be sold in music stores and online. Many stage musicals also produce soundtrack albums featuring original cast recordings from the show.

The very first movie soundtrack sold commercially was from Disney’s Snow White animated feature film. The music collection was released in 1938.

Other well-known soundtrack recordings include those from the films The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Help!, Tommy, West Side Story, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Singin’ in the Rain, Hamilton and Trainspotting.


“I think it’s a big deal to have a great soundtrack for a movie.”
(Rita Ora)

“I usually work on a film soundtrack for two years, turning in a song every few months, and that keeps my creative energy high, because I’m constantly rotating projects. The trick is to make sure I don’t work too hard and get exhausted.”
(A.R. Rahman)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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