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 story reaches its crescendo on the opposite wall with The Lover Crowned at left and concludes with Love Letters, where the preternaturally young couple review their courtship in perfect amity. Colin B. Bailey, The New York Review of Books, "Masterpieces Unmediated," 27 Apr. 2021 With 2:51 remaining, Cleveland’s misery nearly reached a crescendo. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers defenseless, doomed by record-setting first half (in a bad way) in 135-115 loss to short-handed Raptors," 10 Apr. 2021 Frustration among businesses and residents reached a crescendo in the Tenderloin last summer, when UC Hastings College of the Law sued the city over an explosion of tents in the neighborhood. Trisha Thadani, San Francisco Chronicle, "Mayor Breed is working on a huge expansion of S.F.'s homeless housing. How much will it help?," 29 Mar. 2021 But lately, the political and public outrage has reached a crescendo. Diksha Madhok, CNN, "Netflix and Amazon gave daring Indian filmmakers hope. Now that's turning to fear," 27 Mar. 2021 The quiet melody slowly builds into a crescendo with Gourley, Yankovic and Red Elk. Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News, "Portugal. The Man releases song and video for Indigenous People’s Day," 14 Oct. 2020 And then finally the routine comes to a crescendo with good old petroleum jelly. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "The Lip Balm Layering Secret That Saved My Lips This Winter," 21 Mar. 2021 Speculation reached a crescendo towards the end of the 2012/13 season and had Sir Alex Ferguson not retired there’s a strong suspicion the Portuguese forward would have ended up back at Manchester United. Graham Ruthven, Forbes, "Would A Cristiano Ronaldo Return To Manchester United This Summer Make Any Sense?," 12 Mar. 2021 The sound reaches an eerie crescendo just as the planes enter the field of view. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Watch Russia’s New Fighter Jet Let Out a Terrifying Scream," 1 Mar. 2021

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crescendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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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