Definition of tenuto in English:


adjective & adverb

  • (of a note or chord) held for its full time value or slightly more.

    • ‘Here the high notes, mostly, and the tenuto notes, even more, hold out.’

nounPlural tenuti, Plural tenutos

  • A note or chord held for its full time value or slightly more.

    • ‘Two contrasting pieces-one piece, slower in tempo, should demonstrate an ability to shape phrases and control rubatos, tenutos and dynamics.’
    • ‘Cellist Darry Dolezal added, ‘You might consider changing your articulations then from tenutos to staccatos to get the effect you are after.’’
    • ‘He used liberal vibrato and took many liberties in phrasing using ritards, accelerandos and tenutos over important structural notes.’
    • ‘A variety of articulations are found in these pieces, including legato, staccato, two-note slurs, tenuti, portatos and accents.’
    • ‘The only thing that I could think of is that perhaps he's meaning to use the tenutos to imply light stresses, as they happen all over the solo soprano line.’


Italian, literally ‘held’, past participle of tenere.