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[vi-brah-toh, vahy-] /vɪˈbrɑ toʊ, vaɪ-/
noun, plural vibratos. Music.
a pulsating effect, produced in singing by the rapid reiteration of emphasis on a tone, and on bowed instruments by a rapid change of pitch corresponding to the vocal tremolo.
Origin of vibrato
1860-65; < Italian < Latin vibrātus (past participle); see vibrate Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vibrato
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If there was a trace of vibrato in her voice only Courtlandt noticed it.

    The Trail of Conflict Emilie Baker Loring
  • Of course, some decry the vibrato—but the reason is often because the vibrato is too slow.

    Violin Mastery Frederick H. Martens
  • Old Glynn he knew how to make that instrument talk, the vibrato: fifty pounds a year they say he had in Gardiner street.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • There seems to be considerable confusion among singers and even writers as to the use and meaning of tremolo and vibrato.

    Sixty Years of California Song Margaret Blake-Alverson
  • There must be an inner, emotional instinct, an electric spark within the player himself that sets the vibrato current in motion.

    Violin Mastery Frederick H. Martens
  • He asserts also that vibrato is a trick invented after that day and out of place in the music of that period.

    Sixty Years of California Song Margaret Blake-Alverson
  • The vibrato is caused by an undulating variation of pitch or power, often both.

  • A good effect is produced in a sostenuto theme by commencing the vibrato slowly on a crescendo note.

    Chats to 'Cello Students Arthur Broadley
British Dictionary definitions for vibrato


noun (music) (pl) -tos
a slight, rapid, and regular fluctuation in the pitch of a note produced on a stringed instrument by a shaking movement of the hand stopping the strings
an oscillatory effect produced in singing by fluctuation in breath pressure or pitch
Compare tremolo
Word Origin
C19: from Italian, from Latin vibrāre to vibrate
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vibrato

1861, from Italian vibrato, from Latin vibratus, past participle of vibrare "to vibrate" (see vibrate).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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