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 The entry room is scattered with assorted knickknacks ranging from a magic set to a metronome. Washington Post, "Welcome to Mark Hoppus’s Animal Crossing island," 22 Apr. 2020 What happened to the metronomes, audience members, choir members, crickets and fireflies is similar to what happened to all of society on that Sunday in November of 1883. Time, "The Day Clocks Changed Across America: What Happened When the U.S. Adopted Standardized Time," 18 Nov. 2019 Meanwhile, Zidane could be without midfield metronome Luka Modric who is still recovering from a muscular problem, while Isco (hamstring) and Marcelo (neck) also look unlikely to feature having missed five and three games respectively., "Atlético Madrid vs Real Madrid Derby Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 27 Sep. 2019 That audio included a previous recording of the music and the ticking sound of a metronome, to help them keep time and stay in perfect unison despite being scattered to the winds. John Leicester, The Christian Science Monitor, "National Orchestra of France delivers rousing 'Boléro' from home," 2 Apr. 2020 First, both men stand at the baseline, going back and forth, playing the plush metronome of the game. Han Ong, The New Yorker, "Futures," 23 Mar. 2020 Before 5000 rpm, the second of the two turbos joins the party, a Trent Reznor metronome of hissing and clicking accompanying the manic frenzy of acceleration, that trademark sledgehammer 930 Turbo boost binge. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Porsche's 959 Accurately Predicted the Future," 17 Mar. 2020 The final image was of two children staring out at the audience, one holding the last surviving metronome. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 A week later, 1,300 miles away in a center run by a different company with a view of the mountains in Colorado Springs, Kyle Gregory, 9, was also training to the nerve-wracking pulse of a metronome. NBC News, "Parents pay thousands for 'brain training' to help kids with ADHD and autism. But does it work?," 20 Dec. 2019

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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The first known use of metronome was in 1816

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Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Metronome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for metronome


How to pronounce metronome (audio)

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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with metronome

Spanish Central: Translation of metronome

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

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