[ ob-li-gah-toh; Italian awb-blee-gah-taw ]
/ ˌɒb lɪˈgɑ toʊ; Italian ˌɔb bliˈgɑ tɔ /


(used as a musical direction) obligatory or indispensable; so important that it cannot be omitted.

noun, plural ob·bli·ga·tos, ob·bli·ga·ti [ob-li-gah-tee; Italian awb-blee-gah-tee] /ˌɒb lɪˈgɑ ti; Italian ˌɔb bliˈgɑ ti/.

an obbligato part or accompaniment.
a continuing or persistent subordinate or background motif.
a subordinate part of a solo.
Also obligato.

Origin of obbligato

1715–25; < Italian: bound, obliged < Latin obligātus; see obligate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for obbligato

British Dictionary definitions for obbligato





not to be omitted in performance

noun plural -tos or -ti (-tiː)

an essential part in a scorewith oboe obbligato
See also ad-lib

Word Origin for obbligato

C18: from Italian, from obbligare to oblige
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

Word Origin and History for obbligato



musical instruction, 1724, from Italian obbligato, literally "obligated," from Latin obligatus, past participle of obligare "to bind" (see oblige). In reference to a necessary accompaniment by a single instrument.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper