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adjective or adverb

so·​ste·​nu·​to ˌsō-stə-ˈnü-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce sostenuto (audio)
: sustained to or beyond the note's full value
used as a direction in music


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plural sostenutos
: a movement or passage whose notes are markedly prolonged

Examples of sostenuto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Two introspective movements by Charles-Marie Widor (the Adagio from the Fifth Symphony and the Andante sostenuto from the Symphonie gothique) framed the dramatic opening movement of Louis Vierne’s Second Symphony. Dallas News, 21 Feb. 2022

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

Word History


Adjective or adverb

Italian, from past participle of sostenere to sustain, from Latin sustinēre

First Known Use

Adjective Or Adverb

circa 1724, in the meaning defined above


1757, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sostenuto was circa 1724

Dictionary Entries Near sostenuto

Cite this Entry

“Sostenuto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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