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) \

Definition of crescendo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a gradual increase a crescendo of excitement specifically : a gradual increase in volume of a musical passage
b : the peak of a gradual increase : climax … complaints about stifling smog conditions reach a crescendoDown Beat
2 : a crescendo musical passage


adverb or adjective

Definition of crescendo (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Illustration of crescendo

Illustration of crescendo


mark indicating crescendo 2

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from crescendo


crescendo intransitive verb

Examples of crescendo in a Sentence

Noun The noise rose to a crescendo. their divorce was merely the formal crescendo of a long period of marital stress and estrangement
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The reaction began Tuesday night and as the uproar neared its Wednesday crescendo the NBA issued a blunt statement. Dallas News, "NBA ended issue of playing the anthem, but the result of Mark Cuban’s social experiment remains to be seen," 10 Feb. 2021 The surge reached a crescendo in mid-January, when a record 1,520 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, placing enormous stress on the local health care system. Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, "Coronavirus transmission declines in San Antonio with improvements to positivity, case rates," 1 Feb. 2021 All of the years of attention seeking built to a crescendo on Jan. 6, when Gionet took the people watching him on DLive inside the Capitol. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "He went from a childhood in Anchorage to alt-right fame. Now, the social media personality known as Baked Alaska been arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol.," 16 Jan. 2021 Tensions reached a crescendo in late November, when an Iranian nuclear scientist who spearheaded the country's military nuclear program was assassinated. Tyler Van Dyke, Washington Examiner, "Iran's Khamenei vows revenge in tweet with picture resembling Trump," 22 Jan. 2021 The crisis reached its crescendo in April, when the price of light, sweet U.S. crude futures dived below $0 a barrel for the first time. Joe Wallace, WSJ, "Oil’s Turbulent Year Stirs Debate on Relevance of Benchmarks," 28 Dec. 2020 The Voice 2020 is reaching its crescendo, and Jim Ranger is right in the thick of it. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Jim Ranger Belts Out Epic Harry Nilsson Cover on ‘The Voice’: Watch," 8 Dec. 2020 Over the past two weeks, the Terps’ energy has been a steady crescendo in each game. Daniel Oyefusi,, "Three takeaways from Maryland men’s basketball’s 70-64 win over No. 6 Wisconsin," 29 Dec. 2020 It is followed by a crash and a crescendo of shrieks from Noelline. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crescendo.' 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 crescendo


1775, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb or adjective

1807, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for crescendo


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

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Time Traveler for crescendo

Time Traveler

The first known use of crescendo was in 1775

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Statistics for crescendo

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crescendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for crescendo



English Language Learners Definition of crescendo

: a gradual increase in the loudness of a sound or section of music
: the highest or loudest point of something that increases gradually


cre·​scen·​do | \ kri-ˈshen-dō How to pronounce crescendo (audio) \
plural crescendos

Kids Definition of crescendo

: a gradual increase in the loudness of music

More from Merriam-Webster on crescendo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crescendo

Nglish: Translation of crescendo for Spanish Speakers

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