: an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech
: a particular example or form of rhythm
iambic rhythm
: the aspect of music comprising all the elements (such as accent, meter, and tempo) that relate to forward movement
: a characteristic rhythmic pattern
rumba rhythm
: the group of instruments in a band supplying the rhythm

called also rhythm section

: movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements
the rhythms of country life
: the repetition in a literary work of phrase, incident, character type, or symbol
: a regularly recurrent quantitative change in a variable biological process
a circadian rhythm
compare biorhythm
: the effect created by the elements in a play, movie, or novel that relate to the temporal development of the action

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 quiet rhythms of country life. Travel can disrupt your body's daily rhythm. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The city’s allure comes instead from its rhythm and unpredictability, how any street can at once become a stage for a drama big or small, played by people from any number of nationalities, races, genders, ages or sexualities. Alice Newell-Hanson, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2023 These cause spiral lines to appear on the building, drawing the eye into a rhythm rather than straight up and down. Pamela Chelin, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 The process has a familiar rhythm to it: the packing away of summer tank tops and minidresses, the unearthing of winter coats, and, of course, the careful selection of new season pieces that will inject life into your old favorites. Vogue, 19 Sep. 2023 Some early evidence has found that exercise can reset this clock, bringing it back into its normal rhythms, which could benefit metabolic health. Kaitlin Sullivan, NBC News, 19 Sep. 2023 The loss completed a season defined by chaos for the Sky, who never found their rhythm following the departure of four free agents and the unexpected midseason exit of former coach and general manager James Wade. Julia Poe, Chicago Tribune, 17 Sep. 2023 Announced during Thursday’s September Nintendo Direct, last year’s hilarious music rhythm game that was a sleeper hit on Steam is making the move to Nintendo Switch. Antonio G. Di Benedetto, The Verge, 14 Sep. 2023 The star quarterback and his receivers lacked rhythm, a symptom of the early season with so few chances to perfect their timing. Taylor Lyons, Baltimore Sun, 14 Sep. 2023 Wani adds that blackout curtains are especially useful for shift workers or others whose circadian rhythms lead them to sleep in a bit. Gina Mayfield, Dallas News, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of rhythm was in 1560

Dictionary Entries Near rhythm

Cite this Entry

“Rhythm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhythm. Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a flow of rising and falling sounds in language that is produced in verse by a regular repeating of stressed and unstressed syllables
: a flow of sound in music having regular accented beats
: a particular or typical pattern of rhythm
: a movement or activity in which some action repeats regularly
the rhythm of breathing

Medical Definition


: a regularly recurrent quantitative change in a variable biological process: as
: the pattern of recurrence of the cardiac cycle
an irregular rhythm
: the recurring pattern of physical and functional changes associated with the mammalian and especially human sexual cycle

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