cre·scen·do | \krə-ˈshen-(ˌ)dō \
plural crescendos also crescendoes or crescendi\krə-ˈshen-dē \

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

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


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

Of course the move makes sense on a larger scale, and is part of the PGA’s overall move to streamline its schedule toward a championship crescendo, one that will resonate by the end of August rather than into September. Tara Sullivan,, "New PGA Tour format is good for golf, but at Boston’s expense," 10 July 2018 The choir members’ voices rose in crescendos, the overlapping lyrics instinctively growing louder in the absence of working microphones. Alison Kuznitz,, "Canton High School Hosts Emotional Graduation Focused On Change, Individuality," 22 June 2018 This pressure is palpable in the suede-like grip steering wheel from about 80 mph, building to a crescendo of aerodynamic pressure at 155 mph, hissing with the force of 1,760 pounds. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 McLaren Senna: A Pet Racecar for Billionaires," 31 May 2018 Americans like to imagine the civil-rights era as a single, sustained burst of progress, surging forth in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education and building to a crescendo before terminating, somewhat hazily, in the late 1960s. Will Stancil, The Atlantic, "The Radical Supreme Court Decision That America Forgot," 29 May 2018 Thousands of Portland businesses have not paid their city taxes and the problem has reached a crescendo this year, leaving millions of dollars of revenue uncollected as city bureaus prepare for budget cuts. Gordon R. Friedman,, "Portland businesses on track to dodge millions in city taxes owed," 17 Apr. 2018 The crescendo rose to a full-throated roar for 2017. Howard Fendrich, Houston Chronicle, "This one goes to 11: Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for French Open title," 11 June 2018 The crescendo came when Rory sank an uphill 50-foot-long birdie putt on the eighth hole and let out a thunderous roar, cupping his ear and yelling at the partisan American crowd. Jesse Smithey, Detroit Free Press, "Ryder Cup rematch? Rory McIlroy vs. Patrick Reed in Masters Sunday final pair," 7 Apr. 2018 The gorgeous choral crescendos have a dark sublimity in which irony is abandoned for something helplessly true. Charles Mcnulty,, "With 'A Pink Chair,' Wooster Group conjures from spirits from theater's past," 7 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for crescendo

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crescendo

The first known use of crescendo was in 1775

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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 \
plural crescendos

Kids Definition of crescendo

: a gradual increase in the loudness of music

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More from Merriam-Webster on crescendo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crescendo

Spanish Central: Translation of crescendo

Nglish: Translation of crescendo for Spanish Speakers

Comments on crescendo

What made you want to look up crescendo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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