met·​ro·​nome ˈme-trə-ˌnōm How to pronounce metronome (audio)
: a device designed to mark exact time by a regularly repeated tick

Illustration of metronome

Illustration of metronome

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 Beyond that, though, Djokovic was as reliable as a metronome, anticipating nearly everything headed his way and scurrying this way and that to retrieve and respond. Howard Fendrich,, 10 Sep. 2023 And to think that Zeke played all those without a metronome. Andrew Holter, Rolling Stone, 15 July 2023 On some slow or rainy day, when the tennis at Wimbledon is banging and artless as a metronome or suspended by weather, do yourself a favor. Sally Jenkins, Anchorage Daily News, 3 July 2023 The musicians can practice their melodies and train their lung capacities inside, often to the insistent clacking of metronomes. Emily Cochrane,, 1 July 2023 Max Weinberg remains a human metronome who still never breaks a sweat and evokes stamina envy in every drummer; few sticksmen besides Charlie Watts and Larry Mullen Jr. have done so much with such a basic setup. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2023 Some also provide useful services, such as recording and playback, a metronome, and lighted keys as training aids. Michael Pollick,, 26 Sep. 2020 These jellyfish spend most of their time sitting bell-down on the ocean floor, pulsing regularly, a metronome that allowed the team to determine how active the jellyfish were. Stephanie Pappas, Scientific American, 16 June 2023 Those flashpoints are rare, but Ceuta has a low-level metronome of tragedy even during calmer times. James Montague Samuel Aranda, New York Times, 23 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'metronome.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1816, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of metronome was in 1816


Dictionary Entries Near metronome

Cite this Entry

“Metronome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


met·​ro·​nome ˈme-trə-ˌnōm How to pronounce metronome (audio)
: an instrument that ticks regularly to help a music student play in exact time

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