Share this entry

staccato Line breaks: stac|cato
Pronunciation: /stəˈkɑːtəʊ/
chiefly Music

Definition of staccato in English:

adverb& adjective

With each sound or note sharply detached or separated from the others: [as adjective]: a staccato rhythm Compare with legato, marcato.
More example sentences
  • The piano started up; soft, staccato notes filled the room and chased away the dull rumble from the backstage area.
  • On the piano, James was not delicate nor mysterious at all - his playing was stuttered and fast, something rushing forth in staccato bursts that suggest supreme agitation or even anger.
  • Retention of a naturally compact hand through early release of selected notes and judicious use of staccato touch is a potent technique.

noun (plural staccatos)

Back to top  
1A piece or passage marked to be performed staccato.
Example sentences
  • We play opposite articulations: legato in staccato passages, staccato in legato sections.
  • ‘Distant Drums’ is marked by a staccato, open-fifth ostinato pattern in the left hand, over which the chromatic-based melody reigns in the right hand.
  • Years later when Beth played Mozart Sonatas and Chopin Nocturnes, we experimented with putting down the keys in various ways to get the velvety legatos or sparkling staccatos called for in the music.
1.1A series of short, sharp sounds or words: her heels made a rapid staccato on the polished boards
More example sentences
  • Faily looked around at his gang, and his voice changed from the flat monotone of his recitation of imprinted details to the sharp staccato of his orders.
  • The heavy staccato of footfalls behind her sounded a bit odd.
  • She'd sit at the terminal, frowning, cigarette burning in the tray, tapping a rapid staccato.


Italian, literally 'detached'.

Words that rhyme with staccato

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

Definition of staccato 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 whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...