Definition of mordent in English:



  • A rapid alternation of a note with the note immediately below or above it in the scale (sometimes further distinguished as lower mordent and upper mordent). The term inverted mordent usually refers to the upper mordent.

    • ‘Later developments included the adoption of standard signs for such frequently used ornaments as appoggiaturas, mordents, slides, trills, or turns.’
    • ‘This is an ideal variation for students to learn dotted rhythms, finger precision, mordents and slurring, since the third eighth note in each beat sounds best if it is not connected to the next beat.’
    • ‘He employs a wide variety of ornaments such as mordents, trills, broken chords and appoggiaturas.’


Early 19th century: via German from Italian mordente, present participle of mordere to bite.