sonata definition by Webster's New World
Origin: Italian literally , a sounding ; from Classical Latin sonare, to sound: origin, originally , an instrumental composition as opposed to cantata, literally , something sung
sonata definition by American Heritage Dictionary
Origin: Italian, from feminine past participle of sonare, to sound, from Latin sonāre; see swen- in Indo-European roots.
sonata - Cultural Definition
A musical composition for one or two instruments, usually in three or four movements. The sonata of the classic era in music had a definite arrangement for its movements: the first and fourth had a fast tempo, the second had a slow tempo, and the third was in either playful style (a “scherzo”) or in dance form (a “minuet”).