Share this entry

legato Line breaks: le¦gato
Pronunciation: /lɪˈɡɑːtəʊ/

Definition of legato in English:

adverb& adjective

In a smooth flowing manner, without breaks between notes: [as adverb]: the notes were played legato by the bassoons [as adjective]: his tremolo and legato work Compare with staccato.
More example sentences
  • An emphasis on slower tempos gives Black the opportunity to show off her very accomplished legato playing.
  • The pianist wants us to hear everything, and he relies on his legato playing to prevent the music from sounding dry, even skeletal.
  • The natural trumpets were brightly penetrating while the flutes and other woodwind resonated above the soft legato strings.

noun (plural legatos)

Back to top  
A piece or passage marked to be performed legato.
Example sentences
  • The pedal plays a large role in creating a musical perception of legato, and for small-handed pianists, it is indispensable.
  • Different pitches could also be obtained from the one string and the transition between these pitches was characterised by a delicate legato.
  • The lyrical second theme brings forth a singing legato from the violin that contrasts wonderfully with its sharp and clipped phrasing in the first section.


Italian, literally 'bound'.

Words that rhyme with legato

agitato, Ambato, castrato, esparto, inamorato, moderato, obbligato (US obligato), ostinato, pizzicato, rubato, staccato, tomato, vibrato, Waikato

Definition of legato in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive