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noun ca·dence \ˈkā-dən(t)s\

Simple Definition of cadence

  • : a regular beat or rhythm

  • : the way a person's voice changes by gently rising and falling while he or she is speaking

  • : an ending part of a piece of music

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cadence

  1. 1 a :  a rhythmic sequence or flow of sounds in language b :  the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity

  2. 2 a :  a falling inflection of the voice b :  a concluding and usually falling strain; specifically :  a musical chord sequence moving to a harmonic close or point of rest and giving the sense of harmonic completion

  3. 3 :  the modulated and rhythmic recurrence of a sound especially in nature

cadenced play \-dən(t)st\ adjective
cadential play \kā-ˈden(t)-shəl\ adjective

Examples of cadence in a sentence

  1. the steady cadence of the drums

  2. Oars moved back and forth in smooth cadence.

  3. He speaks with a soft Southern cadence.

Did You Know?

Falling into the hands of English speakers in the 14th century, cadence derives via Middle English and Old Italian from the Latin verb cadere, meaning "to fall." ("Cadere" can be found in the history of many common English words, including "decay," "coincide," and "accident"). We most often hear "cadence" used in contexts pertaining to voice or music - it might refer to the familiar way in which someone speaks, or the rhythms employed by a rap artist, or the rising and falling notes of a bird’s call. "Cadenza," the Old Italian word that factors into the history of "cadence," has its own place in English as well, usually referring to a brilliant musical flourish played before closing out an aria.

Origin of cadence

Middle English, from Old Italian cadenza, from cadere to fall, from Latin — more at chance

First Known Use: 14th century

CADENCE Defined for Kids


noun ca·dence \ˈkā-dəns\

Definition of cadence for Students

  1. :  a regular beat or rhythm <We heard the steady cadence of the drums.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cadence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

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