Definition of theorbo in English:

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Pronunciation: /THēˈôrbō/

noun (plural theorbos)

A large lute with the neck extended to carry several long bass strings, used for accompaniment in 17th- and early-18th-century music.
Example sentences
  • The instrumental accompaniment is improvisatory, earthy and ingenious: lute, theorbo, guitar and harp continuo, plus up to a trio of violins, viola da gamba, a cornet and a gentle sprinkling of percussion.
  • Rather than a mere continuo accompaniment, the soprano Karolina Gorgol was here supported by a luscious ensemble of three strings (no viola), theorbo and guitar, harpsichord and an obligato viola da gamba, played by Ibi Aziz.
  • The theorbo, lute, and guitar are particularly prominent.


Early 17th century: from Italian tiorba, of unknown origin.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: the·or·bo

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