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

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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

Each man’s sense of injustice echoed off the grievances of comrades, building to an angry crescendo. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "The One Time American Troops Fought Russians Was at the End of World War I—and They Lost," 9 Nov. 2018 In May, anticipation rose to a crescendo when Drake posted a cryptic picture of DJ Premier and a scorpion image on his Instagram story. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "DJ Premier on Making Drake's 'Sandra's Rose' & Their Unfinished Song 'Sail' With Rick Ross," 29 June 2018 The second gallery pushes the all-is-one inside-outness to a hallucinatory crescendo. David Pagel,, "For Katie Grinnan, a journey across land and inside the mind," 13 June 2018 Animosity between Drew Doughty and William Carrier reached a crescendo with Doughty's hit that sent Carrier to the dressing room in the third period. Curtis Zupke,, "Knights beat Kings 1-0 in Vegas' first playoff game," 12 Apr. 2018 And then, the outrage reached a crescendo when a mariachi band appeared at a rally with several hundred people in front of Mr. Schlossberg’s apartment in Manhattan. New York Times, "‘I Am Not Racist’: Lawyer Issues Apology One Week After Rant," 22 May 2018 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

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

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 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

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 corrupt or become corrupted

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