The correct pronunciation of “forte” is “fortay.” It’s a word that comes from both the French and Italian languages. You won’t ever annunciate the hard “t” as in “fort” unless you are talking about a fortified structure. It’s a posh and succinct way to say something is a strong suit or point in someone or something.
The pronunciation variation in “forte” is due to the fact that it is not a native English word. In French and Italian, they pronounce “e” as “ay.”
What “Forte” Means
The basic definition of “forte” is strength. Whether speaking English, French or Italian, it refers to something powerful. When you say “fortay” you are referring to the strength or power of someone or something.
“Forte” can be a noun that can mean one of two things. It either denotes one’s personal power/ability or it refers to playing a note or section of music loudly. But, it can also be an adverb or an adjective to describe the strength of the surrounding verb or noun.
The etymology of “Forte”
“Forte” is a word from the 1620s in France that relates to the sport of swordplay and fencing. This is the strongest point on a blade of a sword. In this context, the correct pronunciation is “for.” This is because the French never pronounce the “t” unless followed by a vowel.
Therefore, the pronunciation changed in the 18th century by adding the –e, which is an imitation of the Italian word for “strong,” or “forte.” It was from then on out people pronounced, “fortay.”
But, “forte” in Italian carries a musical reference. In this context, it means to play a note or section of music in a loud and forceful way. All this has come to act as a metaphor and simile for a sense of power, force or special skill.
Pronunciation Examples of “Forte”
As you read the examples below pronounce “forte” as “fortay” to gain a better understanding of its meaning and use.
Mozart makes great use of forte in his operettas, for which he is famous.
Making gluten-free baked goods is my forte.
Swordsmen must know the forte of the blade to make the best use of it.
When you see the word “forte” or want to describe a strength or power succinctly, you will say it as “fortay.” It comes from the French and Italian for “strong.”