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 The case for skepticism: How will the ultra-American Stewart handle Diana’s Sloane Ranger cadence? Nate Jones, Vulture, "These Are the Movies the Academy Is Counting On to Save the Oscars," 7 May 2021 That flight cadence stands in stark contrast to Boeing, the other company under contract from NASA to develop spacecraft capable of flying astronauts to and from the space station. Washington Post, "Elon Musk’s SpaceX is about to fly astronauts for a third time. But there is nothing routine about it.," 20 Apr. 2021 Building a cadence creates something your audience can rely on, which ultimately keeps you top-of-mind. Shama Hyder, Forbes, "7 Things You Can Do To Build An Awesome Personal Brand In 2021," 2 Mar. 2021 Create a consistent cadence of virtual team meetings. Shep Hyken, Forbes, "Leaders Share 10 Ways To Manage A Remote Workforce," 18 Apr. 2021 Some cars at the show were rigged with microphones, so Rhodes was able to hear audience laughter and keep her normal comic cadence. BostonGlobe.com, "Erica Rhodes gets her laughs at the drive-in," 8 Apr. 2021 Sung, their cadence marches in step with the rhythms, phrases and intricacies of the melodies. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, "Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson Talks Poetry, Songwriting in ‘Silent Singing’ Excerpt," 7 Apr. 2021 In fact, Allen emerged as one of American cinema’s most gifted practitioners of long takes, which are not only elegant in themselves but lent his work cadence, rhythm, and atmosphere to accompany his one-liners. Peter Tonguette, Washington Examiner, "Woody Allen and 'living' art," 18 Mar. 2021 Biden offered Americans a few solid cornerstones for his upbeat cadence. Philip Elliott, Time, "Biden’s First Primetime Speech Shows the Limits of Optimism," 12 Mar. 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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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

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cadence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cadence. Accessed 17 May. 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.

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