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transitive verb tem·per \ˈtem-pər\

Simple Definition of temper

  • : to make (something) less severe or extreme

  • : to cause (something, such as steel or glass) to become hard or strong by heating it and cooling it

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of temper



play \-p(ə-)riŋ\
  1. 1 :  to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else :  moderate <temper justice with mercy>

  2. 2 archaic a :  to exercise control over :  govern, restrainb :  to cause to be well disposed :  mollify <tempered and reconciled them both — Richard Steele>

  3. 3 :  to bring to a suitable state by mixing in or adding a usually liquid ingredient: asa :  to mix (clay) with water or a modifier (as grog) and knead to a uniform textureb :  to mix oil with (colors) in making paint ready for use

  4. 4a (1) :  to soften (as hardened steel or cast iron) by reheating at a lower temperature (2) :  to harden (as steel) by reheating and cooling in oilb :  to anneal or toughen (glass) by a process of gradually heating and cooling

  5. 5 :  to make stronger and more resilient through hardship :  toughen <troops tempered in battle>

  6. 6a :  to put in tune with something :  attuneb :  to adjust the pitch of (a note, chord, or instrument) to a temperament


play \-p(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective


play \-pər-ər\ noun

Examples of temper in a sentence

  1. The steel must be properly tempered.

Did You Know?

The temper root keeps its basic meaning—"to mix" or "to keep within limits"—in the English word temper. When you temper something, you mix it with some balancing quality or substance so as to avoid anything extreme. Thus, it's often said that a judge must temper justice with mercy. Young people only gradually learn to temper their natural enthusiasms with caution. And in dealing with others, we all try to temper our honesty with sensitivity.

Origin and Etymology of temper

Middle English, from Old English & Anglo-French; Old English temprian & Anglo-French temprer, from Latin temperare to moderate, mix, temper; probably akin to Latin tempor-, tempus time

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Handicraft Terms



noun tem·per

Simple Definition of temper

  • : the tendency of someone to become angry

  • : a state of being angry

  • : calmness of mind

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of temper

  1. 1a archaic :  a suitable proportion or balance of qualities :  a middle state between extremes :  mean, medium <virtue is…a just temper between propensities — T. B. Macaulay>b archaic :  character, quality <the temper of the land you design to sow — John Mortimer>c :  characteristic tone :  trend <the temper of the times>d :  high quality of mind or spirit :  courage

  2. 2a :  the state of a substance with respect to certain desired qualities (as hardness, elasticity, or workability); especially :  the degree of hardness or resiliency given steel by temperingb :  the feel and relative solidity of leather

  3. 3a :  a characteristic cast of mind or state of feeling :  dispositionb :  calmness of mind :  composurec :  state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotiond :  heat of mind or emotion :  proneness to anger :  passion <she has a real temper>

  4. 4 :  a substance (as a metal) added to or mixed with something else (as another metal) to modify the properties of the latter

Examples of temper in a sentence

  1. She has a bad temper.

  2. That boy has quite a temper.

  3. He needs to learn to control his temper.

  4. She hit him in a fit of temper.

  5. He slammed the door and left in a temper.

  6. It's often difficult for parents not to lose their tempers.

  7. He is in a pleasant temper.

14th Century

First Known Use of temper

14th century

Synonym Discussion of temper

disposition, temperament, temper, character, personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group. disposition implies customary moods and attitude toward the life around one <a cheerful disposition>. temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one's specific physical and nervous organization <an artistic temperament>. temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations <a resilient temper>. character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents <strength of character>. personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person <a somber personality>.

Other Metals and Metallurgy Terms

TEMPER Defined for Kids



noun tem·per \ˈtem-pər\

Definition of temper for Students

  1. 1 :  characteristic state of feeling <She has a very even temper.>

  2. 2 :  calmness of mind <I lost my temper.>

  3. 3 :  a tendency to become angry <Try to control your temper.>

  4. 5 :  the hardness or toughness of a substance (as metal)



verb tem·per

Definition of temper for Students



  1. 1 :  to make less severe or extreme :  soften <Mountains temper the wind.>

  2. 2 :  to heat and cool a substance (as steel) until it is as hard, tough, or flexible as is wanted

Word Root of temper

The Latin word temperāre, meaning “to make mild,” “to control,” or “to soften,” gives us the root temper. Words from the Latin temperāre have something to do with mildness or control. To temper is to soften or make something less strong or difficult. Someone temperamental has little control over her or his mood and reactions to people and events. Temperature, or the degree of hotness or coldness, tells whether something is mild, too hot, or too cold.

Seen and Heard

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


to permeate or influence as if by dyeing

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