\ ˈri-t͟həm How to pronounce rhythm (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for rhythm


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Here are three reasons why: Hoosiers stingy on defense During a rhythm-lacking offensive performance from the team as a whole, IU fed off its defensive pressure in forcing 17 turnovers — including 11 in the first half. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball pushes to 7-0 with up-and-down win over South Dakota State," 30 Nov. 2019 The track has all the signifiers of a pop-crossover: a featured rapper on a melodic vocal track, complete with Auto Tune and rhythms tweaked by Skrillex. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "Album review: FKA Twigs’ soul-baring ‘Magdalene’ subverts pop, patriarchy," 27 Nov. 2019 Excessive illumination is disrupting the natural rhythms created by millions of years of the earth’s steady axial rotation. Christopher Preston, Smithsonian, "How Cities and Lights Drive the Evolution of Life," 26 Nov. 2019 Zone defenses, schemes more likely to be found in middle-school rec leagues than the NBA because elite players tend to exploit their numerous holes, can help change the flow of possessions and, ultimately, break a team’s rhythm. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Why the Warriors are employing more zone defense this season," 25 Nov. 2019 Like in the past, an easy completion like the pop pass to DeVonta Smith got the rhythm started for Mac Jones before a pump and go up the sideline to Smith. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "A few extra observations, historical context of Alabama’s 63-point win," 24 Nov. 2019 The blue light suppressed melatonin production for twice as long as green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "These Blue Light Blocking Glasses Are the Solution to Screen Time," 22 Nov. 2019 For almost six months, the unrest in Hong Kong has followed a rhythm. Laignee Barron/hong Kong, Time, "A Siege in Hong Kong Heralds a New Phase of Protest," 21 Nov. 2019 Tropical atmopsheres, sensual grooves and driving rhythms are at the heart of her releases and her Purified radio show. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Nora En Pure Launches Purified Records With Marius Drescher 'Panem': Exclusive," 21 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rhythm

Time Traveler for rhythm

Time Traveler

The first known use of rhythm was in 1560

See more words from the same year

Statistics for rhythm

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Rhythm.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhythm?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=r&file=rhythm01. Accessed 5 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rhythm


How to pronounce rhythm (audio)

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 How to pronounce rhythm (audio) \

Kids Definition of rhythm

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


\ ˈrit͟h-əm How to pronounce rhythm (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 accept, comply, or submit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!