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[luh-gah-toh; Italian le-gah-taw] /ləˈgɑ toʊ; Italian lɛˈgɑ tɔ/
adjective, adverb, Music.
smooth and connected; without breaks between the successive tones.
Compare staccato.
Origin of legato
1805-15; < Italian, past participle of legare < Latin ligāre to bind
Related forms
nonlegato, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for non-legato
Historical Examples
  • We must conclude that the indication "non-legato" finally degenerated into meaning "staccato."

  • The process of the non-legato touch, by showing contrary results, will bear me out.

    Piano Playing

    Josef Hofmann
  • In that emergency we should have to resort to "piecing on," and this means a jerk at every instance—equal to a non-legato.

    Piano Playing

    Josef Hofmann
British Dictionary definitions for non-legato


adjective, adverb
to be performed smoothly and connectedly
noun (pl) -tos
  1. a style of playing in which no perceptible gaps are left between notes
  2. (as modifier): a legato passage
Word Origin
C19: from Italian, literally: bound
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 non-legato


1811, from Italian legato, literally "bound," past participle of legare, from Latin ligare (see ligament). Of music to be played smoothly, without intervals.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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