por·​ta·​men·​to ˌpȯr-tə-ˈmen-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce portamento (audio)
plural portamenti ˌpȯr-tə-ˈmen-(ˌ)tē How to pronounce portamento (audio)
: a continuous gliding movement from one tone to another (as by the voice)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The Cavatina of Opus 130 is steeped in unaffected Old World style, with throaty portamento slides from note to note. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 25 Nov. 2019 Varied effects of vibrato, portamento and pizzicato bring different shades of intensity, atmosphere, eloquence: Even a single austere cello line down a few tones can become fraught with significance. New York Times, 8 July 2018

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

Word History


Italian, literally, act of carrying, from portare to carry, from Latin

First Known Use

1771, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of portamento was in 1771

Dictionary Entries Near portamento

Cite this Entry

“Portamento.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portamento. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

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