(redirected from contrabasses)
Also found in: Thesaurus.


Pitched an octave below the normal bass range.

[Obsolete Italian contrabasso : Italian contra-, against (from Latin contrā-; see contra-) + Italian basso, bass (from Medieval Latin bassus, low).]

con′tra·bass′ist n.


1. (Instruments) a member of any of various families of musical instruments that is lower in pitch than the bass
2. (Instruments) another name for double bass
(Instruments) of or denoting the instrument of a family that is lower than the bass
contrabassist n


(ˈkɒn trəˌbeɪs)

n. adj.
2. pitched an octave below the bass in a family of instruments.
[1590–1600; < Italian contrabbasso=contra- contra-2 + basso bass1]
con′tra•bass`ist (-ˌbeɪ sɪst, -ˌbæs ɪst) n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.contrabass - largest and lowest member of the violin familycontrabass - largest and lowest member of the violin family
bass - the member with the lowest range of a family of musical instruments
bowed stringed instrument, string - stringed instruments that are played with a bow; "the strings played superlatively well"
Adj.1.contrabass - pitched an octave below normal bass instrumental or vocal range; "contrabass or double-bass clarinet"
low-pitched, low - used of sounds and voices; low in pitch or frequency


[ˌkɒntrəˈbeɪs] Ncontrabajo m
References in periodicals archive ?
(According to my reckoning, the following played: 4 first violins, 2 seconds, 2 violas, 2 violincellos and 2 contrabasses, and one each of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet.
Sometime in the 19th century, some enterprising soul realized that mandolins could be built in different sizes and grouped just like bowed string instruments: mandolinas for violas, mandocellos for cellos, mandobasses for contrabasses. Thus was born the mandolin orchestra, Jewish versions of which quickly sprang up across Europe and North America, their mostly amateur members furiously picking away in a mass of quivering, shimmering tremolos.
The influence of said Cuban electric guitar pioneer was even felt among the first crop of native electric bassists, when he showed them to play their newly adopted instruments as if they were guitars, instead of contrabasses.