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


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 Its rhythm, its introduction, crescendo and conclusion, are set not by the temperature: That is far too unreliable. Rory Smith, New York Times, "In Britain, Summer Sports Cancellations Just Hit Different," 9 Apr. 2020 Together these missions have ensured a crescendo of efforts to stigmatize or silence the organization and its affiliates in some fifty Russian cities. Benjamin Nathans, The New York Review of Books, "Profiles in Decency," 8 Apr. 2020 The Finale, likewise, was an extended crescendo, a thrilling musical kettle that just kept warming until all the kernels popped. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra, Sachs delight with slate of untroubled Classical standards," 22 Nov. 2019 His breathtaking performance in Clemson’s 44–16 dismantling of No. 1 Alabama was a crescendo to a years-long evolution. Ross Dellenger,, "All Grown Up: Trevor Lawrence Leads a New Wave of QBs Ready-Made for Prime Time," 7 Aug. 2019 Leonard and George to the Clippers was the spectacular crescendo. Thomas Beller, The New Yorker, "Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and the N.B.A. Free-Agent Kaleidoscope," 12 July 2019 The crescendo of outcry comes as entire countries lock down to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, leaving athletes around the world to stare at empty calendars and shuttered training facilities. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "Pressure from Athletes to Delay Olympics Intensifies," 18 Mar. 2020 The discussions reached a crescendo after one of Walmart’s outside lawyers accused the prosecutors of unethically trying to use the threat of a criminal prosecution to leverage higher civil penalties. James Bandler, ProPublica, "Walmart Was Almost Charged Criminally Over Opioids. Trump Appointees Killed the Indictment.," 25 Mar. 2020 As the nation enters its second month of the coronavirus pandemic, criticism of Trump’s lackluster response has reached a crescendo. John Yoo, National Review, "Pandemic Federalism," 20 Mar. 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

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crescendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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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

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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

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