[vi-brah-toh, vahy-]

noun, plural vi·bra·tos. Music.

a pulsating effect, produced in singing by the rapid reiteration of emphasis on a tone, and on bowed instruments by a rapid change of pitch corresponding to the vocal tremolo.

Origin of vibrato

1860–65; < Italian < Latin vibrātus (past participle); see vibrate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for vibrato

quiver, quaver

Examples from the Web for vibrato

Contemporary Examples of vibrato

Historical Examples of vibrato

  • If there was a trace of vibrato in her voice only Courtlandt noticed it.

    The Trail of Conflict

    Emilie Baker Loring

  • Of course, some decry the vibrato—but the reason is often because the vibrato is too slow.

    Violin Mastery

    Frederick H. Martens

  • There seems to be considerable confusion among singers and even writers as to the use and meaning of tremolo and vibrato.

    Sixty Years of California Song

    Margaret Blake-Alverson

  • He asserts also that vibrato is a trick invented after that day and out of place in the music of that period.

    Sixty Years of California Song

    Margaret Blake-Alverson

  • The natural law with respect to the variety in vibrato effects may be given as follows.

British Dictionary definitions for vibrato


noun plural -tos music

a slight, rapid, and regular fluctuation in the pitch of a note produced on a stringed instrument by a shaking movement of the hand stopping the strings
an oscillatory effect produced in singing by fluctuation in breath pressure or pitch
Compare tremolo

Word Origin for vibrato

C19: from Italian, from Latin vibrāre to vibrate
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 vibrato

1861, from Italian vibrato, from Latin vibratus, past participle of vibrare "to vibrate" (see vibrate).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper