cadence

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

Essential Meaning of cadence

1 : a regular beat or rhythm the steady cadence of the drums Oars moved back and forth in smooth cadence.
2 : the way a person's voice changes by gently rising and falling while he or she is speaking He speaks with a soft Southern cadence.
3 : an ending part of a piece of music

Full 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

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 And then the cadence that defines much of the film—circumstances requiring his sacrifices—sets in. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 24 Dec. 2021 The pattern of emoji use in messages on the platform not only shows how US consumers are sending money, but also the cadence of the economic year, from gift-giving to March Madness to a round of golf. David Yanofsky, Quartz, 23 Dec. 2021 For half a century, Didion, who died on Thursday at 87, was the grand diagnostician of American disorder in essays of strong, unmistakable cadence, churning with floods and fire. New York Times, 23 Dec. 2021 The successful SpaceX liftoff put the finishing touches on the Space Coast's 2021 cadence, which ends the year with 31 launches, matching 2020's number. Editors, USA TODAY, 23 Dec. 2021 In earlier waves, officials noted a consistent cadence of the pandemic — with increases in cases triggering corresponding rises in hospitalizations about two weeks later and then deaths a few weeks after that. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2021 The increase reflects the heightened risk, cadence, and sophistication of attacks, said FS-ISAC Chief Executive Steve Silberstein. James Rundle, WSJ, 23 Sep. 2021 Content cadence matters, and so does the quality and quantity of your content. Daniel Ceniceros, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021 But the irrepressible beat, co-produced by Kel-P (known especially for his work with Burna Boy), starts to energize the singer, who responds by injecting his lines with a playful, skipping cadence. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 6 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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cadence

cadency

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cadence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cadence. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for cadence

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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