Definitions

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

  • adv. Gradually slackening in tempo; ritardando. Used chiefly as a direction.
  • n. A rallentando passage or movement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. slackening; becoming slower (used as a musical direction).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Slackening; -- a direction to perform a passage with a gradual decrease in time and force; ritardando.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, becoming slower; with decreasing rapidity. Also rallentato. Abbreviated rall. Compare ritardando and ritenuto.

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

  • adv. slowing down
  • adj. gradually decreasing in tempo

Etymologies

Italian, present participle of rallentare, to slow down : re-, intensive pref. (from Latin; see re-) + allentare, to slow down (from Late Latin allentāre : Latin ad-, ad- + Latin lentus, slow).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • After Underworld, an 800-page tour de force, DeLillo's career turned towards the miniature: The Body Artist (2001), Cosmopolis (2003), The Falling Man (2007) are much slighter books, a rallentando that suggests a writer moving inexorably into the minor key of old age.

    Don DeLillo: 'I'm not trying to manipulate reality – this is what I see and hear'

  • But music critics must either attempt to describe the evanescent and ineffable, which can lead to gushy impressionism, or they must transcribe bars of music notation and start talking about subdominants, rallentando and other arcane compositional matters.

    Thomas Larson's 'The Saddest Music Ever Written,' reviewed by Michael Dirda

  • He listened patiently, pursed his lips, then played a rallentando on his computer keyboard.

    2010 Odyssey Two

  • Interest from various numbered trusts was still turned, by family banks down in Boston every second or third generation, back into yet another trust, in long rallentando, in infinite series just perceptibly, term by term, dying ... but never quite to the zero ....

    Gravity's Rainbow

  • Not only are singers allowed to walk and gesticulate on the stage without paying any attention to the time, but also no shade of expression, dynamic or motor, of the orchestra -- crescendo, decrescendo, accelerando, rallentando -- finds in their gestures adequate realization.

    The Eurhythmics of Jaques-Dalcroze

  • Surely, the composer intended a pronounced _rallentando_ on the latter half of the bar, and a carrying of the voice by a

    Style in Singing

  • There was a little wailing _rallentando_, and silence.

    The Right Stuff Some Episodes in the Career of a North Briton

  • At the third line of the verse the evangelist joined in great massive tones, beating time vigorously in a rallentando.

    The Major

  • Aside from a few rallentando places, the etude is to be played strictly in time.

    Chopin : the Man and His Music

  • The last line of the song did not come to an end until she was half-way across the dining-room floor, and so far from being dismayed by her aunt's stare of disapproval, she only laughed, waved her hands, and threw an extra flourish into the rallentando.

    Flaming June

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