\ 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

The Carters, in fact, have long structured the daily rhythms of their lives together around this small congregation at Maranatha. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Plains, Ga., an evangelical politician like no other," 11 July 2018 Ostapenko said samba, a lively dance with a lot of rhythm, is her favorite. Tom Perrotta, WSJ, "The Dancer Who Could Win Wimbledon," 10 July 2018 Shutterstock Americans define their homes in many different ways, but few parts of the landscape capture the culture of a city or the rhythm of daily life better than a signature street. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "10 Streets that Changed America," 5 July 2018 According to the New York Times, the couple wanted to develop a practice that respectfully merged the traditions and movements of yoga with the rhythms of West African dances and music. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "Afro Flow Yoga Helped Me Connect to the Rhythm of My Ancestors and View Fitness in a New Way," 1 July 2018 In agricultural areas, the creeping effect can subtly change the rhythms of life over a period of years. John Fialka, Scientific American, "A Wyoming Reservation Shows the New Face of Drought," 6 June 2018 There were air raids in Great Britain, and the haunting sound of sirens was part of the rhythm of life for American servicemen and women, whose numbers reached 1.6 million by June 6, 1944, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "At 100, Army nurse looks back on D-Day," 3 June 2018 While Louisville's offense found a rhythm, starting pitcher Bobby Miller slowly suffocated the Kent State bats over the initial five innings. Randy Rosetta, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville baseball survives to reach NCAA rematch with Texas Tech," 3 June 2018 The Greater Washington Chinese American Community’s float was the shape of a ship, while a band behind the group played drums in a synchronous rhythm. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, "Fourth of July celebrations more meaningful, worrisome for some Americans," 4 July 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

24 Sep 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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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