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

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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 Usually the cadence is kind of a little bit made up on the spot. Chris Varias, Cincinnati.com, "From living out of his car to rapping about peach scones ... Meet Hobo Johnson," 11 Nov. 2019 Taking such precautions often leads to costly delays and budget overruns, potentially reducing the overall cadence and efficacy of interplanetary exploration. Leonard David, Scientific American, "Reduce Red Tape for the Red Planet, Report Says," 25 Oct. 2019 The comedian’s signature yell-shout cadence, honed to such perfection in Difficult People and Billy on the Street, seemingly finds its apex in the body of a weird little meerkat. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "The Lion King remake isn’t a better movie, but it did a few things better than the original.," 17 July 2019 The words washed over you because the cadence and delivery were beautiful. John Pope, al, "Leah Chase, New Orleans’ matriarch of Creole cuisine, dead at 96," 1 June 2019 And how the cadence of grief from families and loved ones captured in the news was painfully familiar. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "A perspective on Orinda: Death, gun violence and generational trauma," 7 Nov. 2019 Irwin uses the texts to illustrate points about the shifting nature of pronouns and the Irish cadences of dialogue that paradoxically was originally written in French. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Bill Irwin shares the secrets of Samuel Beckett in a masterclass at the Kirk Douglas," 20 Sep. 2019 Sammy Miller and the Congregation: As the band’s name implies, drummer Sammy Miller’s Congregation evokes the raucous, celebratory cadences of a Pentecostal service. Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News, "10 top acts highlight the 30th San Jose Jazz summer fest," 30 July 2019 Realme is continuing its breakneck release cadence today with the announcement of the Realme 5 and 5 Pro, its new mainline smartphones for India and the successors to the impressive budget-focused Realme 3. Sam Byford, The Verge, "Realme 5 and 5 Pro announced with quad cameras and low prices," 20 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for cadence

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

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Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cadence.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cadence. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for cadence

cadence

noun
How to pronounce cadence (audio)

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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