the·​or·​bo | \ thē-ˈȯr-(ˌ)bō How to pronounce theorbo (audio) \
plural theorbos

Definition of theorbo

: 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

Examples of theorbo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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, "A brave production of Handel’s ‘Rinaldo’ from American Baroque Opera Company," 9 Mar. 2020 There are guitar forerunners here: an oud, a theorbo, a charrango (with a soundbox made of armadillo skin). Mark Feeney,, "Guitars, stars, and attitude," 11 July 2019 Melinda Becker, mezzo-soprano; Susie Fong, harpsichord; Hallie Marshall-Pridham, viola da gamba and baroque cello; Tatiana Senderowicz, theorbo and baroque guitar. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Classical music and dance listings," 31 May 2018 Dubrovsky’s eight string players, plus Mark Shuldiner on harpsichord and Brandon Acker on theorbo and baroque guitar, include some of the city’s finest period players. John Von Rhein,, "Vivica Genaux delivers exciting Vivaldi vocals with Third Coast Baroque," 8 Apr. 2018 Set within the whole was a stylish continuo group consisting of Craig Trompeter, cello and viola da gamba; Michael Beattie, organ; and Daniel Swenberg, theorbo. John Von Rhein,, "Joan of Arc lives anew, reimagined in Amy Beth Kirsten's 'Savior'," 27 Mar. 2018 With Amelie Chemin, viol; Thomas Boysen, theorbo; Markus Hunninger, harpsichord. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Classical music and dance listings," 1 Mar. 2018 In addition to the period bowed instruments, audiences will hear and see a theorbo in the theater’s very shallow pit — a 6-foot-long member of the lute family. Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Florentine Opera time-travels to Baroque with period approach to operas," 22 Jan. 2018 The concert offered ample evidence of the adventurous artistry and enterprise of L’Arpeggiata, whose artistic director, Christina Pluhar, anchored the performances on the theorbo (a twangy, deep-voiced, long-necked lute). James R. Oestreich, New York Times, "Review: L’Arpeggiata Continues to Push Early Music’s Boundaries," 8 Oct. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of theorbo

1605, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for theorbo

modification of Italian tiorba, teorba

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about theorbo

Time Traveler for theorbo

Time Traveler

The first known use of theorbo was in 1605

See more words from the same year

Statistics for theorbo

Cite this Entry

“Theorbo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on theorbo Encyclopedia article about theorbo

Comments on theorbo

What made you want to look up theorbo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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