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

Definition of metronome

: a 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 Overall, the team’s steady march through the past week-plus is a reflection of a rotation whose performance has served as a metronome., "Red Sox turnaround from calamitous 2020 revolves around the rotation," 13 Apr. 2021 For years, the supply chain kept the heart of the nation’s economy beating with the precision and efficiency of a metronome. Mike Feibus, USA TODAY, "Intel hopes to save the chip industry, one competitor at a time," 29 Mar. 2021 Cases and deaths have been ticking upward for weeks, as regular in their climb as a metronome. Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, "With a meteoric rise in deaths, talk of waves is misguided, say Covid-19 modelers," 12 Nov. 2020 Corey Seager, the finally healthy metronome that fueled the offense all October and became World Series MVP, found Kiké Hernández, his middle infield partner, for a hug. Los Angeles Times, "The road to a Dodgers World Series title was one never before traveled," 2 Nov. 2020 His head rolls on the pillow, with intention and control, from side to side, each ear touching down like the taps of a metronome. David Aloi, New York Times, "I Learned This Stress-Management Trick When I Was 3," 22 Oct. 2020 In a study published in 2009 in Social Cognition, participants tapped their fingers in rhythm with a metronome and in some instances were joined by an experimenter who drummed either to the same beat or to a different one. Marta Zaraska, Scientific American, "Moving in Sync Creates Surprising Social Bonds among People," 1 Oct. 2020 Onstage at Orchestra Hall, Michael Gast lifted his French horn and, as a metronome clicked, played a scale loudly. Jeremy Olson, Star Tribune, "University of Minnesota, orchestra study aerosols from instruments," 17 Oct. 2020 There is comfort in the ageless metronome of the seasons. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Brightly-colored orioles showing signs that their annual journey south is happening," 20 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for metronome

Time Traveler

The first known use of metronome was in 1816

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Metronome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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

Nglish: Translation of metronome for Spanish Speakers

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

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