Definition of staccato in US English:


adjective & adverb

  • With each sound or note sharply detached or separated from the others.

    as adjective ‘a staccato rhythm’
    Compare with legato, marcato
    • ‘The piano started up; soft, staccato notes filled the room and chased away the dull rumble from the backstage area.’
    • ‘Retention of a naturally compact hand through early release of selected notes and judicious use of staccato touch is a potent technique.’
    • ‘On the piano, James was not delicate nor mysterious at all - his playing was stuttered and fast, something rushing forth in staccato bursts that suggest supreme agitation or even anger.’
    • ‘Townshend led a master's class in aggressive guitar, windmilling power chords, strumming with blitzkrieg ferocity and firing out staccato solos in intensive bursts.’
    • ‘Meyer carefully pays attention to dynamic and legato / staccato contrasts, so her playing is endlessly interesting, as well as tonally gratifying.’


  • 1A piece or passage marked to be performed staccato.

    • ‘Years later when Beth played Mozart Sonatas and Chopin Nocturnes, we experimented with putting down the keys in various ways to get the velvety legatos or sparkling staccatos called for in the music.’
    • ‘We play opposite articulations: legato in staccato passages, staccato in legato sections.’
    • ‘From adagio to agitato, from legato to staccato, the music guides us through the story with ease and agility.’
    • ‘‘Distant Drums’ is marked by a staccato, open-fifth ostinato pattern in the left hand, over which the chromatic-based melody reigns in the right hand.’
    • ‘It also showcases the skills of the individual musicians, whose temporal coordination, especially with the staccatos and arpeggios inserted into the composition, is commendable.’
    1. 1.1 A noise or speech resembling a series of short, detached musical notes.
      ‘her heels made a rapid staccato on the polished boards’
      • ‘My feet thudded to the ground in a fast staccato, beating only a little faster than my racing heart.’
      • ‘The staccato of gunfire had died and silence filled the hallway.’
      • ‘Xavier said gripping his cane as the pair's shoes beat a rhythmic staccato on the linoleum.’
      • ‘Faily looked around at his gang, and his voice changed from the flat monotone of his recitation of imprinted details to the sharp staccato of his orders.’
      • ‘The heavy staccato of footfalls behind her sounded a bit odd.’
      • ‘While interesting as a piece of journalism, some comments were vague; for example, we are told that Sargood ‘speaks softly, in a lovely staccato, a spark in her eyes.’’
      • ‘She'd sit at the terminal, frowning, cigarette burning in the tray, tapping a rapid staccato.’
      • ‘If you closed your eyes it was easy enough to mistake that sound, that staccato of rifle and gunfire, for rain pattering onto the surface of a raincoat.’
      • ‘Vladimir could hear scattered gunfire on the right flank now, a staccato of pops amid the deeper roar of the artillery shells exploding to their rear.’
      • ‘The grotesque flesh-marionettes of the studio audience erupted with a shrill and uneven staccato of laughter.’
      • ‘One minute I can hear the birds outside, the staccato of the fan, the light flapping of my bed sheet in the fan draft.’
      • ‘Then the sound of motorbikes being wheeled out, the irregular repeated staccato of kicks, then the reluctant engines being revved to keep them firing in the cold cold air.’
      • ‘His speech is staggered and halting, hers an energetic staccato.’
      • ‘Much laughter has been heard, with the staccato of chopping and the thud of pestles meeting mortars.’
      • ‘His fingers tapped at the keys in a rapid staccato.’
      • ‘The last few words are delivered in a comic staccato.’
      • ‘I sigh, crack one eye, and regard the interplay of shadows on the wall, listening to the incessant staccato of the downpour.’
      • ‘During the encounter the complete life sequence of the characters she sees on the road is shown in a staccato of fast-paced edited shots and then the film resumes to Lola's run.’
      • ‘The bolts of lightning threw lurid blue patterns across the walls and the rain beat a driving staccato on the roof.’
      • ‘Soon, the faint pitter-patter crescendoed into the staccato of heavy drops falling on Heinrich's poncho.’


Italian, literally ‘detached’.