A viola is a string instrument that's played with a bow. Along with violins and a cello, there's usually a viola in a string quartet.

A viola is almost identical to a violin — it's just larger, with a slightly deeper, more mellow sound. Violas, like violins, are played by holding them beneath your chin, putting your fingers on the strings to form notes, and pulling the bow across them. The name comes from viol, a Renaissance instrument, which may stem from Vitula, the Roman goddess of joy. The flower known as a viola is more commonly called a violet.

Definitions of viola
  1. noun
    a bowed stringed instrument slightly larger than a violin, tuned a fifth lower
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    type of:
    bowed stringed instrument, string
    stringed instruments that are played with a bow
  2. noun
    any of the numerous plants of the genus Viola
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    any of numerous low-growing violas with small flowers
    Viola arvensis, field pansy, heartsease
    common Old World viola with creamy often violet-tinged flowers
    Viola cornuta, horned violet, tufted pansy
    European viola with an unusually long corolla spur
    Viola tricolor hortensis, pansy
    large-flowered garden plant derived chiefly from the wild pansy of Europe and having velvety petals of various colors
    Johnny-jump-up, Viola tricolor, heartsease, love-in-idleness, pink of my John, wild pansy
    a common and long cultivated European herb from which most common garden pansies are derived
    American dog violet, Viola conspersa
    violet of eastern North America having pale violet to white flowers
    Viola blanda, sweet white violet, white violet, woodland white violet
    short-stemmed violet of eastern North America having fragrant purple-veined white flowers
    Canada violet, Viola canadensis, tall white violet, white violet
    tall North American perennial with heart-shaped leaves and white flowers with purple streaks
    Viola canina, dog violet, heath violet
    Old World leafy-stemmed blue-flowered violet
    Viola ocellata, heartsease, two-eyed violet
    violet of Pacific coast of North America having white petals tinged with yellow and deep violet
    English violet, Viola odorata, garden violet, sweet violet
    European violet typically having purple to white flowers; widely naturalized
    Johnny-jump-up, Viola pedata, bird's-foot violet, pansy violet, wood violet
    common violet of the eastern United States with large pale blue or purple flowers resembling pansies
    Viola pubescens, downy yellow violet
    violet of eastern North America having softly pubescent leaves and stems and clear yellow flowers with brown-purple veins
    Viola rostrata, long-spurred violet
    violet of eastern North America having lilac-purple flowers with a long slender spur
    Viola striata, cream violet, pale violet, striped violet
    leafy-stemmed violet of eastern North America having large white or creamy flowers faintly marked with purple
    Viola reichenbachiana, Viola sylvatica, hedge violet, wood violet
    common European violet that grows in woods and hedgerows
    type of:
    herb, herbaceous plant
    a plant lacking a permanent woody stem; many are flowering garden plants or potherbs; some having medicinal properties; some are pests
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