Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

metronome

play
noun met·ro·nome \ˈme-trə-ˌnōm\

Simple Definition of metronome

  • : a device that makes a regular, repeated sound to show a musician how fast a piece of music should be played

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of metronome

  1. :  an instrument designed to mark exact time by a regularly repeated tick

Did You Know?

The patent for the metronome was entered in 1816: "John Malzl [sic], of Poland-street, Middlesex, Machinist; for an instrument . . . which he denominates a Metronome, or musical time-keeper." The courts, however, later proved that the aforementioned Johann Maelzel copied a pendulum design of Dietrich Winkel, making Winkel the actual inventor. Nonetheless, Maelzel was the more successful marketer of the metronome and even has a notation named after him. The "M.M." in notations like "M.M. = 60" stands for "Maelzel's metronome" and indicates a tempo of 60 beats per minute or a beat per tick of the metronome as it ticks 60 times, in the case of our example. The name of the invention itself is based on the Greek words metron, meaning "measure," and nomos, meaning "law."

Illustration of metronome

Origin of metronome

Greek metron + -nomos controlling, from nomos law — more at nimble


First Known Use: 1816


METRONOME Defined for Kids

metronome

play
noun met·ro·nome \ˈme-trə-ˌnōm\

Definition of metronome for Students

  1. :  a device that ticks in a regular pattern to help a musician play a piece of music at the proper speed





Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to manage or play awkwardly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

perplex reduce soothe disapprove
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ