Word of the Day - Wednesday, February 22nd

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Diva (DEE-vuh)

A female opera singer

Common clues: La Scala star; Opera superstar

Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year

Frequency in English language: 40071 / 86800

Diva is the Latin and Italian word for "goddess", the feminine form of the Latin word divus, meaning “divine one”.

Time Magazine observed in its October 21, 2002 issue: "By definition, a diva is a rampaging female ego redeemed only in part by a lovely voice." The word was originally used of great female opera singers, almost always sopranos (like Maria Callas), but can be used to describe many female celebrities, such as singers, or movie actresses.


Maria Callas in Donizetti's opera Anna Bolena, La Scala, Milan (1957) Credit: Piccagliani

As with the earlier "prima donna," which was also derived from opera (lit. "first lady"), the term has slipped from its trade origins and come to be used in any theatrical or performative setting. In particular, because of marketing efforts, the word "diva" has come to be applied most often to popular female performers.

A much less-used Italian word, Divo, can be used to describe top male vocalists.

As of late, diva has had a negative connotation, as the word can be used to imply that the star believes the only thing that matters is his or her person, and that everyone involved in a project must cater to his or her every whim.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Diva".