cadence

noun
ca·​dence | \ ˈkā-dᵊn(t)s How to pronounce cadence (audio) \

Definition of cadence

1a : a rhythmic sequence or flow of sounds in language the grand cadence of his poetry
b : the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity The drill sergeant counted cadence. the steady cadence of the drums
2a : 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 : the modulated and rhythmic recurrence of a sound especially in nature

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Other Words from cadence

cadenced \ ˈkā-​dᵊn(t)st How to pronounce cadenced (audio) \ adjective
cadential \ kā-​ˈden(t)-​shəl How to pronounce cadential (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for cadence

Synonyms

beat, measure, meter, rhythm

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Cadence and Music

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. Cadenza in English usually refers to a brilliant musical flourish played before closing out an aria.

Cadence in the Military

Cadence can refer to any rhythmic sequence of words or sound, but in military contexts, the word has a particular meaning, referring to the rhythmic chants sung by soldiers in marching formation.

These chants can often help keep marchers in line with the rhythm of the march:

Early each morning we were assembled for drill, marching to the cadence of a full-throated Marine sergeant who had little use for us; what he knew for sure about us was that we would be of little value in any hand-to-hand fight.
Lewis Thomas, in Authors at Sea, 1997

Examples of cadence in a Sentence

the steady cadence of the drums Oars moved back and forth in smooth cadence. He speaks with a soft Southern cadence.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Not by overloading on glucose or ketones [the energy source produced when the liver burns fat], but by altering the cadence of eating and letting the body do what it was designed to do during times of food scarcity. Rahul Jandial, Md, Health.com, "The Popular Diet One Neurosurgeon Swears By as a Way to Boost His Brainpower," 5 June 2019 Because that rhythmic sound is actually the repetitive cadence of careful craftsmanship. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "How To Cut a Bunch of Wood the Exact Same Width," 8 Nov. 2018 There are 16 missions Rocket Lab wants to do next year, and the ultimate goal is to get a bi-weekly launch cadence. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Small satellite launcher Rocket Lab is poised to send up its first batch of spacecraft for NASA," 12 Dec. 2018 The sensors track stride length, cadence, pace, distance and shoe life, and sync it to the newest version of the popular app MapMyRun, downloaded on your phone. Roy M. Wallack, latimes.com, "10 fitness and lifestyle devices you've never heard of — but will want right now," 20 Apr. 2018 Now feels like a good time to make a quick note about cadence. Amy Marturana, SELF, "Here’s What Proper Running Form Actually Is and How Much You Should Care About It," 2 Apr. 2019 But if Outlander continues with its current cadence, fans are looking at late fall of 2019 for the premiere of season 5, and late fall of 2020 for the premiere of season 6. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Outlander Season 6: Everything We Know So Far," 23 Mar. 2019 Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, and Trevor Noah among them—each of whom manages to challenge our President and his party between a steady cadence of commercial breaks. Rachel Gilman, Glamour, "This Isn't a Puff Piece About Hasan Minhaj," 17 Sep. 2018 The Great Recession threw Ford out of cadence with new products, as other companies wrestled with bankruptcy while Ford did not, Farley noted. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford betting big on trucks, SUVs; sets sights on hybrid gains," 15 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cadence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cadence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for cadence

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

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Dictionary Entries near cadence

Cade

cadee

cadelle

cadence

cadency

cadency mark

cadent

Statistics for cadence

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cadence

The first known use of cadence was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cadence

cadence

noun

English Language Learners 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

cadence

noun
ca·​dence | \ ˈkā-dᵊns How to pronounce cadence (audio) \

Kids Definition of cadence

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

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