met·ro·nome | \ˈme-trə-ˌnōm \

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

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 At Ojai, musicians held the metronomes while standing in the aisles. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 Far from orchestrating the game in a metronome like fashion, Super Jack was ducking and weaving throughout, using his slight frame to implausibly wiggle out of oncoming challenges., "Why Chelsea Should Take a Punt on Super Jack Wilshere and Make Him the Golden Boy He Deserves to Be," 22 June 2018 Maor offers a brief account of the invention of the metronome, a piece of technology for fixing and marking tempo and some of the ways in which this form of measurement has proved inspiring. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 Unlike Stephen Curry, who seemingly uses his entire body to hoist three-pointers, Thompson is a jump-shooting metronome: plant, catch, release. Connor Letourneau,, "Klay Thompson: How Warriors guard made a case for team MVP," 2 July 2018 Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez were the twin hearts of Spain's rise, offensive metronomes who elevated tiki-taka to supremacy at Barcelona and Spain. Ronald Blum,, "'Tiki-taka' generation ends as Spain leave the World Cup," 1 July 2018 His metronome was a hit with composers, among them his friend Ludwig von Beethoven who, caught in a rare whimsical mood, improvised a tune in honor of Maelzel’s machine. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 There’s also just the right amount of veteran savvy: defenders Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué, and beloved midfield metronome Andrés Iniesta. Jonathan Tannenwald,, "2018 World Cup: Previewing everything from Messi and Ronaldo to the best teams and matches," 13 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

24 Sep 2018

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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 \

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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