[ ak-sel-uh-ran-doh, -rahn-; Italian aht-che-le-rahn-daw ]
/ ækˌsɛl əˈræn doʊ, -ˈrɑn-; Italian ɑtˌtʃɛ lɛˈrɑn dɔ /
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adverb, adjective Music.
gradually increasing in speed.
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Origin of accelerando

1835–45; <Italian <Latin accelerandus, gerundive of accelerāre to speed up. See accelerate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does accelerando mean?

Accelerando describes a tempo that is gradually increasing in speed.

In music, accelerando tells a musician to play increasingly faster. Typically, music’s speed, or tempo, is denoted in beats per minute (BPM). When the BPM changes, the tempo of the music instantly changes. But when a tempo change is marked with an accelerando command, it will gradually increase over the notes indicated rather than changing instantly.

Accelerando commands are often used in music to create a sense of urgency, excitement, or increasing emotion as the tempo increases.

Example: We still need to work on that accelerando section because some of the instruments are dragging.

Where does accelerando come from?

The first records of the term accelerando come from around the 1830s. It is an Italian term that comes from the Latin accelerāre, meaning “to speed up.” 

In the Western world, languages use Italian terms for music. In addition to accelerando, you might hear ritardando, meaning “becoming gradually slower,” crescendo, meaning “rising in volume,” and staccato, meaning “light and sharp,” among many others.

You might also hear accelerando used outside of music as an exaggerated or playful way to tell someone to speed up what they are doing. While this is especially used by musicians, who would be most familiar with the term, it might be used by anyone who’s familiar with it.

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What are some other forms related to accelerando?

  • accelerandos (plural)

What are some words that share a root or word element with accelerando?

What are some words that often get used in discussing accelerando?

How is accelerando used in real life?

Accelerando is most frequently used in the context of music, especially as a part of music theory or as a direction.


Try using accelerando!

Is accelerando used correctly in the following sentence?

Tamica added an accelerando to her composition because she wanted a slow, steady pace.

How to use accelerando in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for accelerando

/ (ækˌsɛləˈrændəʊ) music /

adjective, adverb
(to be performed) with increasing speed
noun plural -dos
an increase in speed

Word Origin for accelerando

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