Large lute of the baroque period. It had an extra set of bass strings, not stopped on a fingerboard as the regular set are but plucked as open strings. These made it more suitable for playing baroque music than was the lute. It originated in the late 16th cent. and survived until the end of the 18th cent. Its name was also spelled theorbe, theorboe, or tiorba. Courtesy of Columbia Encyclopedia © 2001.