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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. 2018.
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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
  • 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
  • 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 natural law with respect to the variety in vibrato effects may be given as follows.

    Chats to 'Cello Students Arthur Broadley
  • A good effect is produced in a sostenuto theme by commencing the vibrato slowly on a crescendo note.

    Chats to 'Cello Students Arthur Broadley
  • 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
  • At the same time the vibrato used to excess is quite as bad as an excessive tremulando in the voice.

    Violin Mastery Frederick H. Martens
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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