from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A short melody or pattern that is constantly repeated, usually in the same part at the same pitch.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A piece of melody, a chord progression, or a bass figure that is repeated over and over as a musical accompaniment.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a musical phrase repeated over and over during a composition
Italian, from Latin obstinātus, stubborn, past participle of obstināre, to persist; see obstinate.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Italian ostinato ("stubborn"). (Wiktionary)