met·​ro·​nome | \ ˈme-trə-ˌnōm How to pronounce metronome (audio) \

Definition of metronome

: an device designed to mark exact time by a regularly repeated tick

Illustration of metronome

Illustration of metronome

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Did You Know?

The patent for the metronome was entered in 1816: "John Malzl [sic], of Poland-street, Middlesex, Machinist; for an instrument . . . which he denominates a Metronome, or musical time-keeper." The courts, however, later proved that the aforementioned Johann Maelzel copied a pendulum design of Dietrich Winkel, making Winkel the actual inventor. Nonetheless, Maelzel was the more successful marketer of the metronome and even has a notation named after him. The "M.M." in notations like "M.M. = 60" stands for "Maelzel's metronome" and indicates a tempo of 60 beats per minute or a beat per tick of the metronome as it ticks 60 times, in the case of our example. The name of the invention itself is based on the Greek words metron, meaning "measure," and nomos, meaning "law."

Examples of metronome in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Not the nearly-unhittable-in-2019 Yates, a human metronome who’s dipping spikes into uncharted ninth-inning waters as the fastest-starting closer in franchise history. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres’ door-slamming closer Kirby Yates understated, undeterred," 20 June 2019 On one side of a steel mesh door, an experimenter listened to a metronome through headphones and drummed along. Quanta Magazine, "The Beasts That Keep the Beat," 22 Mar. 2016 Freese recalled Pujols as a metronome; the same activities, day after day. Andy Mccullough,, "Albert Pujols’ return to St. Louis set for adulation, not condemnation," 20 June 2019 Crickets sing in synchrony; metronomes placed side by side sway into lockstep; some fireflies blink together in the dark. Quanta Magazine, "Scientists Discover Exotic New Patterns of Synchronization," 4 Apr. 2019 The metronome of my breath, the monotony of lap after turn after lap, is like meditation to me. Jenna Dedić, Redbook, "Swim Your Way Stronger," 25 May 2017 The Earth’s orbit gradually changes shape from almost circular to slightly elliptical over a period of 202,500 years, and then starts returning to form over the next 202,500 years — like a metronome swinging side to side. Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, "Every 202,500 Years, Earth Wanders in a New Direction," 21 May 2018 To clouds of falling white petals, dancers clad in patterned bodysuits twisted gracefully to the clicking sound of a metronome. Thomas Adamson, The Seattle Times, "Dior and Gucci theatrically kick off Paris Fashion Week," 24 Sep. 2018 While the prototype for the metronome was invented in 1814 by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel, it is usually associated with Johann Maelzel (known for his amusing automata, among them a mechanical chess-player). Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metronome.' 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 metronome

1816, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for metronome

Greek metron + -nomos controlling, from nomos law — more at nimble

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for metronome

The first known use of metronome was in 1816

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More Definitions for metronome



English Language Learners Definition of metronome

: a device that makes a regular, repeated sound to show a musician how fast a piece of music should be played


met·​ro·​nome | \ ˈme-trə-ˌnōm How to pronounce metronome (audio) \

Kids Definition of metronome

: a device that ticks in a regular pattern to help a musician play a piece of music at the proper speed

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More from Merriam-Webster on metronome

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with metronome

Spanish Central: Translation of metronome

Nglish: Translation of metronome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of metronome for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about metronome

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