a continuous bass accompaniment, indicated by a shorthand method in notation, and played as on a harpsichord or organ, esp. in baroque music
It, orig., continuous < L continuus: see continue
See continuo in American Heritage Dictionary 4
An independent bass line, usually realized on a keyboard instrument, in which numerals written underneath the notes indicate the kinds of harmony to be played. Also called basso continuo, figured bass, thoroughbass.
Origin: , from Latin continuus, continuous; see continue