the·​or·​bo thē-ˈȯr-(ˌ)bō How to pronounce theorbo (audio)
plural theorbos
: a stringed instrument of the 17th century resembling a large lute but having an extra set of long bass strings

Illustration of theorbo

Illustration of theorbo

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Along with Lebedinsky, the group includes Kati Kyme on viola, William Skeen on violoncello and viola da gamba, Kevin Cooper on the lute-like theorbo, and violinists Aaron Westman and Anna Washburn. Beth Woodcontributor, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Feb. 2023 Over that electronic polyphony, accompanists on period instruments, including the theorbo (a long-necked lute), improvised sometimes plangent, sometimes dissonant improvisations. Jason Farago, New York Times, 21 Mar. 2023 Il Pomo d’Oro—a twenty-some-piece orchestra including harpsichord and theorbo — took their places flanking the platform on both sides. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2023 In another change from past years, the period-instruments orchestra will include a continuo contingent of chamber organ and theorbo (a bass lute) as well as cello and harpsichord. Dallas News, 15 Dec. 2022 The ensemble consists of music students from Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire who play on baroque-era style instruments including harpsichord, theorbo (a type of lute), baroque violin and viola da gamba. Sheryl Devore,, 23 Nov. 2021 Soprano Arwen Myers and theorbo player John Lenti perform 400-year-old Italian songs including works by Barbara Strozzi and Monteverdi. oregonlive, 26 May 2021 The orchestra mostly played well and stylishly, although there were some tuning issues early on and twangs on the theorbo (bass lute) were sometimes overdone. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 9 Mar. 2020 There are guitar forerunners here: an oud, a theorbo, a charrango (with a soundbox made of armadillo skin). Mark Feeney,, 11 July 2019 See More

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

Word History


modification of Italian tiorba, teorba

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of theorbo was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near theorbo

Cite this Entry

“Theorbo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

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