A Word A Day : Forte

Saturday, 10th May 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : fawrt & fáwr-tày


1. something that somebody is particularly good at

2. the strongest section of a sword's blade, between the middle and the hilt

3. something at which a person excels

Usage Note : The word forte, coming from French fort, should properly be pronounced with one syllable, like the English word fort. Common usage, however, prefers the two-syllable pronunciation (fôr'tā') which has been influenced possibly by the music term forte borrowed from Italian. In a recent survey a strong majority of the Usage Panel, 74 percent, preferred the two-syllable pronunciation. The result is a delicate situation: speakers who are aware of the origin of the word may wish to continue to pronounce it as one syllable but at an increasing risk of puzzling their listeners.


Mid-17th century - Via French fort - strong


specialty, strong point, strong suit, long suit



Contextual Examples:

• The orchestra's forte was playing Mozart concertos.

• You know what my forte is, Gilbert--the fanciful, the fairylike, the pretty.

• I don't know what her forte is, but it's not music.

• Cooking is not really my forte.

• The construction of a fable seems by no means the forte of our modern poetical writers.

Related Words:

forte : Noun meaning fencing

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