\ˈri-t͟həm \

Definition of rhythm 

1a : an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech

b : a particular example or form of rhythm iambic rhythm

2a : the aspect of music comprising all the elements (such as accent, meter, and tempo) that relate to forward movement

b : a characteristic rhythmic pattern rumba rhythm also : meter entry 1 sense 2

c : the group of instruments in a band supplying the rhythm

called also rhythm section

3a : movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements the rhythms of country life

b : the repetition in a literary work of phrase, incident, character type, or symbol

4 : a regularly recurrent quantitative change in a variable biological process a circadian rhythm — compare biorhythm

5 : the effect created by the elements in a play, movie, or novel that relate to the temporal development of the action

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Synonyms for rhythm


beat, cadence, measure, meter

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Examples of rhythm in a Sentence

Jets that cross time zones in a day play havoc with the natural rhythms acquired through evolution. — Nancy Shelton, Skeptical Inquirer, May/June 1996 They shattered punk orthodoxy with radical politics and jagged rhythms, their rage captured in brutally succinct outbursts. — Matt Diehl, Rolling Stone, 20 Oct. 1994 I would even say that when the bouncy style is not an attempt to dazzle the reader, or one's self, but to incorporate into American literary prose the rhythms, nuances, and emphases of urban and immigrant speech, the result can sometimes be a language of new and rich emotional subtleties … — Philip Roth, Reading Myself and Others, 1975 She walked as Doctor Reefy thought he had never seen anyone walk before. To her whole body there was a swing, a rhythm that intoxicated him. — Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio, 1919 At that the others began to gibber in unison, also rising to their feet, spreading their hands and swaying their bodies in rhythm with their chant. — H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896 the composer's use of jazz rhythm She enjoyed the rhythms of country life. Travel can disrupt your body's daily rhythm.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Fitbit devices only store data for a week unless backed up to a computer, further complicating the ability to consider long term data when trying to assess if an irregular heart rhythm is a consistent problem over time. Jordyn Hermani, Indianapolis Star, "Fishers teen discovers she has heart defect after wearing Fitbit," 14 July 2018 Our circadian rhythms—the biological timekeepers of things like blood pressure, hormone levels, and metabolism—are coupled to our mental states. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "Twitter Users Are Analytical in the Morning, Angsty at Night," 22 June 2018 For the Celtics to answer, re-establishing offensive rhythm will be pivotal. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "LeBron James Helps Cavs Stave Off Elimination, Sets Up Winner-Take-All Game 7," 25 May 2018 His paragraphs are written to careful rhythms, from incantatory to fulminatory with every stop on the way in between. The Economist, "Philip Roth was one of America’s greatest novelists," 23 May 2018 The dominant voice in Peruvian music since the ’70s, Ayllon has served as her homeland’s musical ambassador, drawing on the African, Spanish and local influences, complex rhythms, indigenous melodies, and Latin dance of Peru. Courtney Devores, charlotteobserver, "7 buzzworthy concerts coming to Charlotte in the next week | Charlotte Observer," 23 May 2018 The creators have infused it with modern rhythms, as techno beats wind their way into Victorian dances. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "Picnic at Hanging Rock," 22 May 2018 The rhythm of the production is tentative at times, especially at the outset, when the company appears hesitant to begin. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "SITI Company and Ann Hamilton set sail for Virginia Woolf's 'To the Lighthouse'," 30 Apr. 2018 The name alludes to this ethos: The Circadian rhythm is a biological process that takes about 24 hours, repeating every day. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "3 Years of Everyday Life in 7 Countries, Captured by a Wandering Photographer," 28 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rhythm.' 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 rhythm

1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for rhythm

Middle French & Latin; Middle French rhythme, from Latin rhythmus, from Greek rhythmos, probably from rhein to flow — more at stream

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Phrases Related to rhythm

in rhythm

sense of rhythm

Statistics for rhythm

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rhythm

The first known use of rhythm was in 1560

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More Definitions for rhythm



English Language Learners Definition of rhythm

: a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movements

: a regular, repeated pattern of events, changes, activities, etc.


\ˈri-t͟həm \

Kids Definition of rhythm

: a regular repeated pattern of beats, sounds, activity, or movements


\ˈrit͟h-əm \

Medical Definition of rhythm 

1 : a regularly recurrent quantitative change in a variable biological process: as

a : the pattern of recurrence of the cardiac cycle an irregular rhythm

b : the recurring pattern of physical and functional changes associated with the mammalian and especially human sexual cycle

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Comments on rhythm

What made you want to look up rhythm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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