ada·​gio | \ə-ˈdä-j(ē-ˌ)ō, ä-, -zh(ē-ˌ)ō\

Definition of adagio 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: at a slow tempo used chiefly as a direction in music


plural adagios

Definition of adagio (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a musical composition or movement in adagio tempo

2 : 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

And extreme contrasts - the fourth movement has rapidly, repeatedly alternating speeds, adagio to presto - were narrowed, giving little shock. Alan Artner,, "In the heat, Moser, Grant Park Orchestra perform a delicate Dvorak," 30 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Everything built to the sublime adagio whose slow unfolding was superbly controlled and brought beautiful playing from the CSO string choir, even if the hall’s parched acoustics bleached the sound of resonance. John Von Rhein,, "Review: Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the CSO in an eloquent Mahler Ninth Symphony," 18 May 2018 The slow opening movement, the upbeat and lively second and third movements, and then the sinking into an adagio, a slow repose. Chicago Tribune,, "Algren Award runner-up: "Fluid Mechanics" by Mabel Yu," 2 June 2018 This should be a great showcase, not just for their athleticism but for their strength in adagio. Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Chronicle, "Choreographer Justin Peck brings his old and his new works to SF Ballet," 15 Jan. 2018 Beethoven's dramatic gestures registered without rhetorical excess, the adagio was a rapt dialogue between the piano and woodwinds, and the finale danced with rhythmic playfulness. John Von Rhein,, "Ravinia's John Adams 70th birthday bash gets strong liftoff from CSO, Nagano," 26 July 2017 There’s actually a story about the music for The Nutcracker adagio, which would seem to belie its emotional power—that it was composed on a bet. Leilah Bernstein, Los Angeles Magazine, "These ‘Lost’ Ballets Are Being Performed for the First Time in L.A.," 16 June 2017 In one sequence, which goes on as long as a Mahler adagio, Ronnie’s genitals get trapped in the slats of a sun bed. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Baywatch” and “Letters from Baghdad”," 5 June 2017 Anodyne outer movements enclosed a sluggish adagio where glimmers of Lupu's Beethoven style at its best shone through — warmly rounded tone, supple phrasing and, above all, sensitive attention to the soft end of the dynamic spectrum. John Von Rhein,, "Muti directs a demonic Liszt rarity, bails out a subpar Lupu in Beethoven concerto," 28 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adagio.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of adagio

Adverb or adjective

1680, in the meaning defined above


1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adagio

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

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Dictionary Entries near adagio


ad agency






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Time Traveler for adagio

The first known use of adagio was in 1680

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English Language Learners Definition of adagio

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: in a slow manner



English Language Learners Definition of adagio (Entry 2 of 2)

: a piece of music that is played or performed slowly and gracefully

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Spanish Central: Translation of adagio

Comments on adagio

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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