The violin family of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the 16th century. At the time the name of this family of instruments was viole da braccio which was used to distinguish them from the viol family (viole da gamba). The standard modern violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, and (possibly) double bass.
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Instrument names in the violin family are all derived from the root viola, which is a derivative of the Medieval Latin word vitula (meaning "stringed instrument"). A violin is a "little viola", a violone is a "big viola" or a bass violin, and a violoncello (often abbreviated cello) is a "small violone" (or literally, a "small big viola"). (The violone is not part of the modern violin family; its place is taken by the modern double bass, an instrument with a mix of violin and viol characteristics.)