The Collaborative International Dictionary
Viola \Vi"o*la\, n. [It. See Viol.] (Mus.) An instrument in form and use resembling the violin, but larger, and a fifth lower in compass.
Viola da braccio [It., viol for the arm], the tenor viol, or viola, a fifth lower than the violin. Its part is written in the alto clef, hence it is sometimes called the alto.
Viola da gamba [It., viol for the leg], an instrument resembling the viola, but larger, and held between the knees. It is now rarely used.
Viola da spalla [It., viol for the shoulder], an instrument formerly used, resembling the viola, and intermediate in size between the viola and the viola da gamba.
Viola di amore [It., viol of love: cf. F. viole d'amour], a viol, larger than the viola, having catgut strings upon, and brass or steel wires under, the keyboard. These, sounding sympathetically with the strings, yield a peculiarly soft and silvery sound. It is now seldom used.