1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Violoncello
VIOLONCELLO (Fr. violoncelle, Ger. Violoncell, Ital. violoncello), the bass member of the violin family. Although the word violoncello is a diminutive, signifying “small violone,” or double bass, the instrument is really a bass violin, formed on a different model from the violone, which has the sloping shoulders and flat back of the viol family, whereas those of the violoncello are rounded as in the violin. The construction of the violoncello is therefore the same as that of the violin (q.v.) but on a much larger scale. It is either held, on account of its size, between the performer's knees, or rests on the floor supported on a foot or spike.