ada·​gio | \ ə-ˈdä-j(ē-ˌ)ō How to pronounce adagio (audio) , 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

But in the sublime, time-stopping Poco adagio, the gentle purr of the organ beneath the orchestra sounds one-dimensional. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, "Uncertain Tempo," 31 Dec. 2018 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

The following night, his typical, upbeat confidence was again adagio. Alejandro Varela, Harper's magazine, "Carlitos in Charge," 16 Sep. 2019 In Perlman’s hands, the adagio movement spoke with unmistakable melodic clarity and moments of intimacy and stillness not easily achieved in an outdoor setting. Howard Reich,, "Classical reviews: Perlman’s triumph at Ravinia; Grant Park’s disappointing finale," 18 Aug. 2019 At each stage of class—the barre exercises, the serene adagio movements, and allegro jumps from petit to grande—there’s a code, a recipe, literal steps to doing things well. Matt Ortile, SELF, "Whenever My Life Feels Out of Control, I Go to Ballet Class," 16 Aug. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on adagio

Spanish Central: Translation of adagio

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