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

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 To fit their button timing perfectly within that one-frame, 16.6 ms window, some speedrunners resorted to using a metronome set to 108 or 109 beats per minute, letting go of the walk button after exactly four beats. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 11 Apr. 2022 Consistent, clean turns should feel rhythmic, like you’re skiing in time with a metronome. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, 1 Oct. 2020 Levels of suffering that once felt like thunderclaps now resemble a metronome’s clicks—the background noise against which everyday life plays. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 8 Mar. 2022 To suit the mood of the piece, the background sound will be a metronome, rather than music. Myrna Petlicki,, 15 Feb. 2022 The participants had to simply keep rhythm with the metronome. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 31 Oct. 2021 The other received a daily 15-minute treadmill session with a metronome set to 180 beats/minute. Amby Burfoot, Outside Online, 23 July 2019 Weed causes people to perceive time as passing more slowly, so the counting test is a popular indicator of cannabis consumption, though of course not every sober person has a superb internal metronome. Amanda Chicago Lewis, Wired, 15 Feb. 2022 They were instructed to adjust their stride rates upward to match the metronome. Amby Burfoot, Outside Online, 23 July 2019 See More

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.

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

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Metronome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for metronome


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

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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