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[thee-awr-boh] /θiˈɔr boʊ/
noun, plural theorbos.
an obsolete bass lute with two sets of strings attached to separate peg boxes, one above the other, on the neck.
Origin of theorbo
1595-1605; < Italian teorba, variant of tiorba, special use of Venetian tiorba, variant of tuorba traveling bag ≪ Turkish torba bag; so called from the bag it was carried in
Related forms
theorbist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for theorbo
Historical Examples
  • I had a good dinner for them, as a venison pasty and some fowl, and after dinner we did play, he on the theorbo.

  • She was aught drawing, singing, and to play on the theorbo; had learning, and wrote very agreeable verses.

  • The chitarrone was formerly called Roman theorbo, because it was principally used at Rome.

  • At noon played on my theorbo, and much pleased therewith; it is now altered with a new neck.

  • He recognised the player of the theorbo, who, partly relieved of his weight, raised her breast.

    Thais Anatole France
  • On a table with curved legs placed in the embrasure of the window lay a lute, a theorbo, and some pieces of unfinished tapestry.

    The Knight of Malta Eugene Sue
  • The girl with the theorbo looked fixedly at him from underneath the long lashes of her eye.

    Thais Anatole France
  • He is a blind man squalling out a ditty, and thrumming on a puppy in his lap instead of a theorbo.

  • And every night the player of the theorbo left the wall, approached him, and spoke in a clear voice mingled with soft breathing.

    Thais Anatole France
  • The largest member of the ancient lute family—the bass lute or theorbo—has been identified with the barbiton.

British Dictionary definitions for theorbo


noun (pl) -bos
(music) an obsolete form of the lute, having two necks, one above the other, the second neck carrying a set of unstopped sympathetic bass strings
Derived Forms
theorbist, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Italian teorba, probably from Venetian, variant of tuorba travelling bag, ultimately from Turkish torba bag
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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