adverb or adjective
le·​ga·​to | \ li-ˈgä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce legato (audio) \

Definition of legato

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: in a manner that is smooth and connected (as between successive tones) used especially as a direction in music



Definition of legato (Entry 2 of 2)

: a smooth and connected manner of performance (as of music) also : a passage of music so performed

Examples of legato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Soltani’s luscious legato tone in the short, slow introduction to the third movement was capped by an exuberant finale. Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2020 Elsewhere, Kang Wollett spun out long, legato solos in the Largo by Ives, making the dark romanticism sing. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 12 July 2019 The Tanglewood reception wasn’t extravagant, even though his encore, the Chopin Nocturne in C-sharp minor, showed Lang Lang’s filigree legato at its very best. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, 12 July 2018 Jones played the demanding solo part with apparent ease, beauty of tone and, in the Andante, a lovely feel for legato playing, turning a fairly standard-issue slow movement into a noble aria. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, 11 May 2018 Scott Hostetler traced a melting legato line in the famous English horn solo of the largo, although Muti’s easing the pace later in the slow movement threatened to stifle forward impetus. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, 13 Apr. 2018 Gerstein’s descending figures might have managed the smoothest legato in the business, and Hagen faced the great stretch of tumult in the first movement with absolute clarity and composure. Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, 22 Mar. 2018 Her Azucena is a creation of soaring high notes, fluttering trills, seductive legato, chilling low tones. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, 23 Jan. 2018 From my seat the balance favored Ma's fulsome tone by a slight margin; Ax's legato playing sounded a bit watery even with the lid on his Steinway fully opened. Richard S. Ginell, latimes.com, 5 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'legato.' 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 legato

Adverb or adjective

1786, in the meaning defined above


1740, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for legato

Adverb or adjective

Italian, literally, tied

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Cite this Entry

“Legato.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legato. Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of legato

music : in a manner that is smooth and flowing


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