In music notation, ritardando is often abbreviated "ritard." or "rit." and it means an immediate and noticable slowing of the tempo of the music. The extent of the slowing depends on how many measures it lasts and at what tempo the music is already going. The word means "delaying" in Italian.

Ri`tar*dan"do (?), a. [It.] Mus.

Retarding; -- a direction for slower time; rallentando.

 

© Webster 1913.

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