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 But there is something to the way Slalien’s cadence builds that effect. New York Times, "Review: Alexei Ratmansky Finds a New Voice at City Ballet," 31 Jan. 2020 His genre-bending approach, his studio work ethic, and his rapid-fire, ground-breaking cadence have all led to him becoming one of the most in-demand studio talents and collaborators. Jessica Roiz, Billboard, "De La Ghetto Inks Global Publishing Deal With Peermusic," 30 Jan. 2020 And every word that passes their lips should be spoken in a tone, volume and cadence that is pleasing to the ever-alert ears of their audience. Washington Post, "For female leaders, humor is a blessing. Unless it’s a curse.," 16 Jan. 2020 This newest Neo is also claimed to have better accuracy of cadence measurement (RPMs at the pedal), a smoother ride, more responsive resistance control, and improved internal memory. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Indoor Trainers for Dedicated Cyclists," 7 Nov. 2019 Even so, by the turn of the century, the network faced complaints about its tight control over pronunciation, cadence and accent, especially for women and people of color. Jason Loviglio, The Conversation, "NPR is still expanding the range of what authority sounds like after 50 years," 6 Dec. 2019 These Spotify leaderboards reflect how much pop has shifted towards hip-hop by adopting its postures, cadences, and sonic textures. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "See the Artists Who Dominated Spotify in 2019, From Post Malone to Billie Eilish," 3 Dec. 2019 The United States is second on the list, courtesy in large part to SpaceX's busy launch cadence. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The SpaceX Decade: How One Company Changed Spaceflight Forever," 12 Dec. 2019 Daboll also tries to cover up Allen’s warts by constantly mixing up his personnel, formations and snap cadence. BostonGlobe.com, "“They’ve played their best football in some critical situations,” Bill Belichick said. “They make you earn every yard. They don’t make any mistakes. We’ll have to go up there and play 60 minutes of good football. We know that.”," 27 Sep. 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, "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

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cadence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cadenced. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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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