Definition of metronome
: an device designed to mark exact time by a regularly repeated tick
metronome was our Word of the Day on 08/18/2008. Hear the podcast!
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."
Origin and Etymology of metronome
Greek metron + -nomos controlling, from nomos law — more at nimble
First Known Use: 1816
METRONOME Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of metronome for English Language Learners
: a device that makes a regular, repeated sound to show a musician how fast a piece of music should be played
METRONOME Defined for Kids
Definition of metronome for Students
: 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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