[ roo-bah-toh; Italian roo-bah-taw ]

  1. having certain notes arbitrarily lengthened while others are correspondingly shortened, or vice versa.

noun,plural ru·ba·tos, ru·ba·ti [roo-bah-tee; Italian roo-bah-tee]. /ruˈbɑ ti; Italian ruˈbɑ ti/.
  1. a rubato phrase or passage.

  2. a rubato performance.

  1. in a rubato manner.

Origin of rubato

1880–85; <Italian (tempo) rubato stolen (time), past participle of rubare to steal <Germanic; see rob

Words Nearby rubato Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use rubato in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rubato


/ (ruːˈbɑːtəʊ) music /

nounplural -tos
  1. flexibility of tempo in performance

adjective, adverb
  1. to be played with a flexible tempo

Origin of rubato

C19: from the Italian phrase tempo rubato, literally: stolen time, from rubare to rob

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