cre·​scen·​do | \ krə-ˈshen-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce crescendo (audio) \
plural crescendos also crescendoes or crescendi\ krə-​ˈshen-​dē How to pronounce crescendi (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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By midafternoon, 3,000 panicky depositors had withdrawn their money, and 25,000 ghoulish onlookers had gathered to watch, a year after the stock market crashed, the Roaring Twenties conclusively culminate with a thundering crescendo. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "5 New York Buildings That Changed American History," 31 Oct. 2019 Samuel provided an emotional crescendo in Call Me By Your Name (as well as the film adaption) with his monologue expressing total acceptance of his son’s love for another man. Rich Juzwiak, Time, "Call Me By Your Name Sequel," 25 Oct. 2019 And the orchestra matched him in beautifully blended shadings, crescendos resolving in breathtaking quiet. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: Denk, SPCO launch season with exquisitely aching Schumann," 14 Sep. 2019 By the song's crescendo, Björk emerges from this boulder of dead bodies and turns into a technicolor spirit creature, moving into viewers' perspective—in an intense and intimate way—then floating into space like Icelandic laser Jesus. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Björk made music’s first “VR pop album”—she opens up about its heartbreak," 13 Sep. 2019 After losing its first two games, the Panthers' offense caught fire in the middle of the season, with an 83-point crescendo in its homecoming game against Earlham. Tyler Kraft, Indianapolis Star, "2019 season preview: Indiana state colleges," 4 Sep. 2019 The soaring crescendos of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber are once again prominent, matched by the haunting lyrics of Charles Hart which play second fiddle but deserve equal attention. Tom Titus, Daily Pilot, "Review:: On Theater: ‘Phantom’ resurrected with a vengeance at Segerstrom," 15 July 2019 During their final joint royal tour, to South Korea in November 1992, whispers about the couple’s imminent separation reached a crescendo, but their press secretary denied any issues. K.j. Yossman, Marie Claire, "Inside the Cutthroat World of Royal Gossips," 5 Sep. 2019 The enthusiasm around the table builds to a crescendo, as our Type-A personalities click into high gear. Leila Atassi,, "What now, Alondra? Open Table members help the 18-year-old plot her next big decisions: A Greater Cleveland," 26 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about crescendo

Statistics for crescendo

Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for crescendo

The first known use of crescendo was in 1775

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for crescendo


How to pronounce crescendo (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!