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noun tem·po \ˈtem-(ˌ)pō\

: the speed at which a musical piece is played or sung

: the speed at which something moves or happens

plural tem·pi \-(ˌ)pē\ or tempos

Full Definition of TEMPO

:  the rate of speed of a musical piece or passage indicated by one of a series of directions (as largo, presto, or allegro) and often by an exact metronome marking
:  rate of motion or activity :  pace

Examples of TEMPO

  1. The song has a slow tempo.
  2. The composition has many changes of tempo.
  3. We walked at a fast tempo.
  4. The tempo of the game slowed down.
  5. The dance starts out fast and then switches tempo.

Origin of TEMPO

Italian, literally, time, from Latin tempus
First Known Use: circa 1724

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue
TEMPI Defined for Kids


noun tem·po \ˈtem-pō\
plural tem·pi \-ˌpē\ or tempos

Definition of TEMPO for Kids

:  the rate of speed at which a musical composition is played or sung

Word Root of TEMPO

The Latin word tempus, meaning time,and its form temporis give us the roots temp and tempor. Words from the Latin tempus have something to do with time. Something temporary lasts only a short time. Someone or something contemporary lives or occurs at the same time as someone or something else. A tempo is the speed at which music is performed in time.


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