Definition of ritardando in English:


(also ritard)

adverb & adjective

  • (especially as a direction) with a gradual decrease of tempo.

    • ‘No deviations from this basic pulse are indicated - no accelerando or ritardando - but the avoidance of repeated rhythmic patterns prevents the emergence of any phrase-structure comparable to Schumann's.’
    • ‘When the trumpets entered, their ascending phrase was ritardando to a degree, allowing a gradual and more dramatic crescendo too.’


  • A gradual decrease in tempo.

    • ‘He knew exactly where the accelerations and ritardandos should be, and when the lilt was most important.’
    • ‘At that time, detailed research into historical performance practice was still limited, which accounts for the massive final ritardandi and other features which would now be questioned.’
    • ‘Bach's fermatas and the symmetrical variation groupings they produce, have profound implications with respect to tempo relationships, as well as the amount of pause and ritardandos taken between each variation.’
    • ‘It is sometimes a bit too easy and didactic to consistently underline such things as radical modulations or harmonic shifts, by means of accentuation, rhetorical pauses, ritardandos, etc.’