cadence

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

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
c : a regular and repeated pattern of activity In addition to our weekly cadence, we take a step back once a quarter to think about our platform a little more strategically.— David Vandegrift To meet its cadence of a launch every other week, SpaceX must build at least two of these each month.— Eric Berger Then in the evening, it's off to the boxing gym or a sparring session for two to three more hours. In recent years, she's kept a cadence of two to four fights annually, her last being a loss for the WBC light middleweight world title in Poland in September.— Deanna Cioppa
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 cadence (audio) \ adjective
cadential \ kā-​ˈden(t)-​shəl How to pronounce cadence (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 Lazor emphasized Wednesday that Dalton’s play speed, cadence and tempo getting in and out of the huddle are helping to lift the Bears offense. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, 8 Sep. 2021 The letter and the writing that was on the 2x4 ... was the same block handwriting, sort of the same cadence and the same message as the anonymous letter writer. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, 25 Aug. 2021 Everyone in this sketch hits the cadence of their character perfectly, which is what sells a classic mapping sketch like this one. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 13 July 2021 To increase the cadence of the new Kaos, a two-piece chassis system features flexible arch support and lateral support for torsional control. Tim Newcomb, Forbes, 8 June 2021 With a style that conveys the musical cadence of a local dialect, Mbue creates the African village in all its ancient nuance. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2021 Now, Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle has finally demonstrated the ability to carry space tourists above the atmosphere, and executives are promising a move to a monthly flight cadence for paying passengers and experimental payloads. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, 22 July 2021 Processes are important to cultivate once the right people and technologies are in place to make sure there is an organized cadence to getting things done. Dan Merzlyak, Forbes, 24 June 2021 Villaseñor’s Tomlin is worth singling out — the tone, cadence, and attitude are all very well done — but Mooney, Bennett, and Day are also solid. Matthew Love, Vulture, 16 May 2021

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, "rhythm of prose or verse, rhetorical periods," borrowed from Medieval Latin cadentia "rhythm in verse," noun derivative (formally feminine singular from neuter plural) of Latin cadent-, cadens, present participle of cadere "to fall, sound rhythmically, end, terminate (of words or clauses)" — more at chance entry 1

Note: Since at least the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1888), this word has been attributed to Italian, either directly or through French. However, attestations of French cadence and Italian cadenza are significantly later than the first occurrences of cadence in Middle English (ca. 1390) and early Scots (ca. 1420). (The word also occurs in Chaucer's House of Fame, composed ca. 1380 and attested earliest in a manuscript of ca. 1450.) In Medieval Latin cadentia appears in the approximate sense "verse rhythm" (pedum cadentia) in John of Garland's Parisiana poetria (composed ca. 1234).

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

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Dictionary Entries Near cadence

cadelle

cadence

cadency

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cadence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cadence. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on cadence

Nglish: Translation of cadence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cadence for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cadence

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