• synonyms


[rit-er-nel-oh; Italian ree-tawr-nel-law]
noun, plural ri·tor·nel·los, ri·tor·nel·li [rit-er-nel-ee; Italian ree-tawr-nel-lee] /ˌrɪt ərˈnɛl i; Italian ˌri tɔrˈnɛl li/. Music.
  1. an orchestral interlude between arias, scenes, or acts in 17th-century opera.
  2. a tutti section in a concerto grosso, aria, etc.
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Origin of ritornello

1665–75; < Italian, diminutive of ritorno return
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ritornello

Historical Examples of ritornello

  • She sang a couplet and the others sang in chorus a ritornello.

    Critical Studies


  • The same may be said about the Stornello, Ritornello and Ciure.

  • What it probably did was to repeat as a sort of ritornello the clearly marked refrain of the song.

    Some Forerunners of Italian Opera

    William James Henderson

  • The ritornello is first given, which is long, because it serves as an introduction to the first scene of the opera.

British Dictionary definitions for ritornello


noun plural -los or -li (-liː) music
  1. an orchestral passage between verses of an aria or song
  2. a ripieno passage in a concerto grosso
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Word Origin for ritornello

C17: from Italian, literally: a little return, from ritorno a return
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