1 of 2

adverb or adjective

ada·​gio ə-ˈdä-j(ē-ˌ)ō How to pronounce adagio (audio)
: at a slow tempo
used chiefly as a direction in music


2 of 2


plural adagios
: a musical composition or movement in adagio tempo
: a ballet duet by a man and woman or a mixed trio displaying difficult feats of balance, lifting, or spinning

Examples of adagio in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Adverb or adjective
Next comes adagio work, or slower sustained movements and balances, without the aid of a barre. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2020 But in the sublime, time-stopping Poco adagio, the gentle purr of the organ beneath the orchestra sounds one-dimensional. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, 31 Dec. 2018 And extreme contrasts - the fourth movement has rapidly, repeatedly alternating speeds, adagio to presto - were narrowed, giving little shock. Alan Artner,, 30 June 2018
Advertisement The adagio, with pulsating string textures and grinding suspensions over dutiful baroque harmonic sequences leads into an aggressive, if academic, fugue. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Oct. 2023 On the night of May 1, 1945, the corporation broke the news to Churchill that Adolf Hitler was dead: Gombrich had recognized the adagio from Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E Major, written for the death of Wagner, playing ahead of the official announcement. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 11 Apr. 2022 No, the arrival of Apple Music Classical has been rather adagio, or even lento. David Phelan, Forbes, 9 Mar. 2023 In the adagio cantabile second movement (mistakenly identified onscreen as the third movement), Chen conjured considerable tenderness and introspection. Howard Reich,, 18 Oct. 2020 Zelenskyy then spoke briefly with the families, as a small orchestra played a mournful adagio. Andrew Meldrum, ajc, 21 Jan. 2023 But Drucker and Watkins sustained marvelous tension in the opening adagio movement, highlighting harmonic shifts toward the end that signal the waking Romanticism in Beethoven’s later years. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 11 Dec. 2022 Set to Schubert’s romantic string adagio from the Quintet in C, Requiem for a Rose examines both the ephemeral nature of romance and the enduring devotion of love. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Aug. 2022 The adagio begins with muted warmth in the strings, which Reinhardt used to highlight the winds’ unity of timbre and intonation. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adagio.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adverb or adjective

borrowed from Italian, from the phrase ad agio, literally, "at ease," from ad, a "to, at" (going back to Latin ad) + agio "ease, convenience," borrowed from Old French aise, eise — more at at entry 1, ease entry 1


borrowed from Italian, derivative of adagio adagio entry 1

First Known Use

Adverb Or Adjective

1680, in the meaning defined above


1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of adagio was in 1680

Dictionary Entries Near adagio

Cite this Entry

“Adagio.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adverb or adjective
ada·​gio ə-ˈdäj-ō How to pronounce adagio (audio)
: in an easy graceful manner : slowly
used as a direction in music


2 of 2 noun
: a musical composition or movement in adagio tempo
: a ballet duet or trio displaying difficult feats of balance, lifting, or spinning
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