or·​a·​to·​rio ˌȯr-ə-ˈtȯr-ē-ˌō How to pronounce oratorio (audio)
plural oratorios
: a lengthy choral work usually of a religious nature consisting chiefly of recitatives, arias, and choruses without action or scenery

Examples of oratorio in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web George Frideric Handel called his most enduringly popular oratorio simply Messiah — not The Messiah. Dallas News, 15 Dec. 2022 With this piece, Handel barges noisily through the swinging doors of the saloon of Eighteenth-century oratorio tradition, already fully at ease with the Baroque practice, begun a generation or two before, of alternating recitatives (sung dialogue) and arias. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 July 2023 Raise your voice along side your fellow audience members in Los Angeles Master Chorale’s annual participatory presentation of Handel’s oratorio. Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2022 The production married a historic opera children performed in a concentration camp with a contemporary oratorio Laitman composed using young prisoners' underground poetry. The Indianapolis Star, 9 June 2023 His Flute Concerto and Flute Sonata Undine are sometimes performed today, but virtually unknown is a prolific output of operas, oratorios, symphonies, piano concertos, chamber music and piano pieces. Dallas News, 22 Feb. 2023 Enter Email Sign Up Handel: ‘Proverai di che fiere saette,’ from ‘Almira’ After George Frideric Handel died in London in 1759, his instrumental music and English-language oratorios received the lion’s share of attention. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 25 May 2023 John reports that the Virgin Mary has seen the risen Jesus, Mary Magdalene relates her own encounter and the oratorio ends in celebration. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 19 Apr. 2021 Masur, who loves choral music, will conduct the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus in Handel's popular oratorio. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 2 May 2023 See More

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

Word History


Italian, from the Oratorio di San Filippo Neri (Oratory of St. Philip Neri) in Rome

First Known Use

1724, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of oratorio was in 1724

Dictionary Entries Near oratorio

Cite this Entry

“Oratorio.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oratorio. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


or·​a·​to·​rio ˌȯr-ə-ˈtōr-ē-ˌō How to pronounce oratorio (audio)
plural oratorios
: a vocal and orchestral work usually dramatizing a religious subject without action or scenery
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!