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

beat, measure, meter, rhythm

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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

That work also involves Microsoft getting used to the cadence of delivering a Chromium browser, with daily builds for Canary, weekly for Developer, and now beta builds every six weeks. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser moves closer to release with new beta version," 20 Aug. 2019 For a minute and a half, Oliver rapped, dancing effortlessly as the rhymes tumbled out in a sing-song cadence. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Rapper Tone Oliver makes up to $200 a day on BART. Should he be barred from busking?," 18 Aug. 2019 Williamson speaks in a husky alto with a cadence that is part meditation guide and part preacher. Robin Givhan, BostonGlobe.com, "Marianne Williamson won’t make you feel better about America, but you’ll feel better about yourself," 27 June 2019 That suggests Rocket Lab is well on its way to a higher launch cadence in 2019. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Rokot ending, more spaceports, back-to-back Falcon Heavies," 21 Dec. 2018 As a trio of scientists from Ohio’s Oberlin College reports in the journal PLoS One, eastern grays rely on the cadences of everyday bird calls to sense whether threats have passed. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Squirrels Eavesdrop on Birds to Check If Danger Has Passed," 6 Sep. 2019 He is meticulously groomed—salt-and-pepper beard neat as can be—with a beautiful voice that rises and falls with the cadence of a soulful love song. Chris Searles, National Geographic, "Diving into the unfolding history of wrecked slave ships," 22 Aug. 2019 Bespectacled and of average build and height, the 52-year-old talks about voting policy with the confident cadence of an experienced technocrat. Matt Stiles, Los Angeles Times, "Sweeping change is coming for L.A. County voters. If things go wrong, he’ll get the blame," 19 Aug. 2019 Her prose, often luminous and incantatory, rings with the cadences of black oral tradition. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Toni Morrison, ‘Beloved’ author and nobel laureate, dies at 88," 6 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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Dictionary Entries near cadence

Cade

cadee

cadelle

cadence

cadency

cadency mark

cadent

Statistics for cadence

Last Updated

18 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cadence

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

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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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