Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. In a smooth, even style without any noticeable break between the notes. Used chiefly as a direction.
  • n. A legato passage or movement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. Smoothly, in a connected manner.
  • n. A slur curve above or below a passage of notes indicating that they should be played in a legato manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Connected; tied; -- a term used when successive tones are to be produced in a closely connected, smoothly gliding manner. It is often indicated by a tie, thus �, �, or �, �, written over or under the notes to be so performed; -- opposed to staccato.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, in a smooth, connected manner, without breaks or pauses between successive tones: opposed to staccato.
  • n. A smooth, connected manner of performance, or a passage so performed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (music) without breaks between notes; smooth and connected
  • adv. connecting the notes; in music

Etymologies

Italian, past participle of legare, to bind, tie together, from Latin ligāre; see leig- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowing from Italian legato, past participle of legare ("to tie up, tie together, to bind"), learned borrowing from Latin ligō ("tie, bind"). (Wiktionary)

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