• synonyms


[os-ti-nah-toh; Italian aws-tee-nah-taw]
noun, plural os·ti·na·tos. Music.
  1. a constantly recurring melodic fragment.
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Origin of ostinato

1875–80; < Italian: literally, obstinate < Latin obstinātus obstinate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ostinato

Historical Examples of ostinato

  • In my opinion, your Basso ostinato should be written in 3/4 or 6/4 time, but not in 5/4.

    The Life &amp; Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky

    Modeste Tchaikovsky

  • You have made just such a mistake in your otherwise beautiful Basso ostinato.

British Dictionary definitions for ostinato


    1. a continuously reiterated musical phrase
    2. (as modifier)an ostinato passage
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Word Origin for ostinato

Italian: from Latin obstinātus obstinate
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 ostinato

1876, from Italian ostinato, literally "obstinate, persistent."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper