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cre·​scen·​do krə-ˈshen-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce crescendo (audio)
plural crescendos also crescendoes or crescendi krə-ˈshen-dē How to pronounce crescendo (audio)
: a gradual increase
a crescendo of excitement
specifically : a gradual increase in volume of a musical passage
: the peak of a gradual increase : climax
… complaints about stifling smog conditions reach a crescendoDown Beat
: a crescendo musical passage
crescendo intransitive verb

Illustration of crescendo

Illustration of crescendo
  • mark indicating crescendo 2


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adverb or adjective

: with an increase in volume
used as a direction in music

Examples of crescendo in a Sentence

Noun The noise rose to a crescendo. excitement in the auditorium slowly built up and reached its crescendo when the star walked on stage
Recent Examples on the Web
The New Moon will reach its crescendo at 9:40 pm EDT. Tarot Astrologers, Chicago Tribune, 14 Sep. 2023 This crescendo of labor actions follows a relative lull in U.S. strikes and a decline in union membership that began in the 1970s. Jasmine Kerrissey, The Conversation, 24 Aug. 2023 A week worth of hype hit its crescendo early in the 33-degree afternoon as the Spartans’ Bubba Smith knocked out Irish starting quarterback Terry Hanratty and center George Goeddeke left the game two plays later. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 21 Aug. 2023 El Niño began developing this spring and probably won’t bring a crescendo of warmth to the Pacific until the end of the year. Brady Dennis and Scott Dance, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Aug. 2023 McCarthy's comments mark a crescendo of a drumbeat of Republican scrutiny into the White House. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 25 July 2023 To build toward a dramatic crescendo, Tommy escapes the authorities while standing trial for a separate crime. Inkoo Kang, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 Trump’s wide-ranging effort to hold onto power reached a crescendo on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the Electoral College certification. Time, 24 Aug. 2023 With a quarterback battle reaching a crescendo, Saban offered the following assessment after Saturday’s second scrimmage -- two weeks before the season opener. Michael Casagrande |, al, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'crescendo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from Italian, noun derivative of crescendo "increasing," gerund of crescere "to increase, grow," going back to Latin crēscere "to come into existence, increase in size or numbers" — more at crescent entry 1

Adverb or adjective

borrowed from Italian — more at crescendo entry 1

First Known Use


1775, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb Or Adjective

1807, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of crescendo was in 1775

Dictionary Entries Near crescendo

Cite this Entry

“Crescendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural crescendos or crescendoes
: a gradual increase especially in the loudness of music
: the peak of a gradual increase
crescendo adverb or adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on crescendo

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