from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb & adjective Gradually slowing in tempo; retarding. Used chiefly as a direction.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In music, becoming gradually slower; diminishing in speed: same as rallentando and (usually) ritenuto (but see the latter). Abbreviated rit. and ritard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective (Mus.) Retarding; -- a direction for slower time; rallentado.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb music Gradually decelerating the tempo of a piece of music, especially at the end of the piece.

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

  • adjective gradually decreasing in tempo


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

[Italian, present participle of ritardare, to slow down, from Latin retardāre; see retard.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowed from Italian ritardando, gerund of ritardare ("to delay, to slow down").


  • He followed this rhetorical question with the same two notes, ritardando, played four quaver chords, then a bar which disrupted one's expectations by the introduction of a rest and a pair of semiquavers, and very shortly broke into cascades of chorded and unchorded semiquavers that left Pelagia open-mouthed.

    Captain Corelli's Mandolin

  • The combination of _crescendo_ and _ritardando_ is also tremendously effective.

    Essentials in Conducting

  • The more evident changes of this sort are indicated by the composer through such expressions as _ritardando_, _accelerando_, _et cetera_; and it may be well to give at this point a list of the commoner of these terms together with their meanings.

    Essentials in Conducting

  • It is not necessary to beat time constantly, and the teacher, after giving the signal for the attack and setting the tempo, may lower the baton, until a _fermata_, or a _ritardando_, or the final tone of the song makes its use necessary again.

    Essentials in Conducting

  • When there is a _ritardando_ and it becomes necessary to give a larger number of beats in order to show just how much slower the tempo is to be.

    Essentials in Conducting

  • This is particularly necessary in places where a _ritardando_ makes it desirable from the standpoint of the performers to have a larger number of beats.

    Essentials in Conducting

  • But children are usually not able to keep their minds on the task in hand to this extent, and if there is to be a _ritardando_ or a _crescendo_ at a certain point, the only safe thing is to teach this change in tempo or dynamics when first taking up the song, so that the expressional element may become

    Essentials in Conducting

  • When a conductor directing with a baton wishes to indicate a _ritardando_, he does so not merely by making the beats follow one another at longer intervals, but even more by making

    Essentials in Conducting

  • The last three or four syllables of the Epistle are chanted more slowly, ritardando at the end.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 9: Laprade-Mass Liturgy

  • With deliberate slowness, _ritardando con molto sentimento, _ I worked my way to the familiar restaurant.

    Old Calabria