noun \ ˈri-t͟həm \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of rhythm

1 a : 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
2 a : 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 : 1meter 2
c : the group of instruments in a band supplying the rhythm called also rhythm section
3 a : 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

Examples of rhythm in a Sentence

  1. Jets that cross time zones in a day play havoc with the natural rhythms acquired through evolution. —Nancy SheltonSkeptical InquirerMay/June 1996
  2. They shattered punk orthodoxy with radical politics and jagged rhythms, their rage captured in brutally succinct outbursts. —Matt DiehlRolling Stone20 Oct. 1994
  3. 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 RothReading Myself and Others1975
  4. 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 AndersonWinesburg, Ohio1919
  5. 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. WellsThe Island of Doctor Moreau1896
  6. the composer's use of jazz rhythm

  7. She enjoyed the rhythms of country life.

  8. Travel can disrupt your body's daily rhythm.

Recent Examples of rhythm from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of rhythm

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

RHYTHM Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of rhythm for English Language Learners

  • : a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movements

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

RHYTHM Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈri-t͟həm \

Definition of rhythm for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


noun \ 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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very hard to disturb or upset

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