The temper root keeps its basic meaning—"to mix" or "to keep within limits"—in the English word temper. When you temper something, you mix it with some balancing quality or substance so as to avoid anything extreme. Thus, it's often said that a judge must temper justice with mercy. Young people only gradually learn to temper their natural enthusiasms with caution. And in dealing with others, we all try to temper our honesty with sensitivity.
disposition implies customary moods and attitude toward the life around one.
a cheerful disposition
temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one's specific physical and nervous organization.
an artistic temperament
temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations.
a resilient temper
character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents.
strength of character
personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person.
a somber personality
Examples of temper in a Sentence
She has a bad temper.
That boy has quite a temper.
He needs to learn to control his temper.
She hit him in a fit of temper.
He slammed the door and left in a temper.
It's often difficult for parents not to lose their tempers.
He is in a pleasant temper. Verb
The steel must be properly tempered. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
In that reality, the sight of Gibson hurling cruel insults or unleashing his violent temper is hardly the stuff of escapist action fantasy.—Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Sep. 2023 The attempt to soothe tensions among Republicans comes as tempers are flaring and as the majority’s big personalities try to seize the upper hand — some trying to lead and others hoping to disrupt any plans for compromise.—Lisa Mascaro and Stephen Groves, Chicago Tribune, 19 Sep. 2023 Related Boston City Council President Flynn laments ‘negative attention to the institution’On Boston City Council, tempers continue to flare over redistricting
The letter details allegations from the council’s compliance director and lawyer, Christine O’Donnell.—Danny McDonald, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Aug. 2023 But from the beginning, his training tactics and explosive temper drowned some rowing careers in their wake.—Gus Garcia-Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2023 As mentioned earlier, Kool-Aid McKinstry accidentally touched a rolling punt, gift-wrapping three points for USF and causing Nick Saban to lose his temper on the sideline.—Matt Stahl | Mstahl@al.com, al, 17 Sep. 2023 In the most powerful scene in the novel, the love between Carmel and Nell as a child turns into a physical fight when Carmel loses her temper one day.—Elena Lappin, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2023 Your eyes are rolling clear out of their sockets as Sean Penn publicly loses his temper for the fifth consecutive decade.—Stephen Rodrick, Variety, 13 Sep. 2023 And so despite his stigma, his royal dignity and still-ferocious temper remain intact.—Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 8 Sep. 2023
Denim was adorned with floral patterns and paired with lace bustier tops, crisp suiting and ties were tempered with skinny jeans, and splashes of metallic gold appeared on dresses, blazers, and even a polo shirt, which steered the collection firmly into evening territory.—Claire Stern, ELLE, 9 Sep. 2023 By 2018, Wong had learned three important tricks: sowing his landscapes with small figures to provide a sense of scale; using snaky diagonal forms (rivers, roads) to separate near from far; tempering layers of warm colors with cool ones.—Jackson Arn, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 Once properly tempered, the chocolate will look even more appetizing.—Andrea Beck, Better Homes & Gardens, 28 Aug. 2023 But that excitement is tempered by the knowledge of what may be causing these changes: warming ocean temperatures, melting snowpacks and wildfires.—Lola Fadulu, New York Times, 26 Aug. 2023 White and black dresses propose a binary idea of femininity — pure vs. mature and tempered — while the deep red of ribboned braids or cherry lips foregrounds an inherent sexuality.—Sofia Andrade, Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2023 Even so, years of hiking hadn’t prepared either of us for this trail, which rose up and up at a barbaric pitch, disappearing into the clouds with no turns to temper the incline.—David Amsden, Travel + Leisure, 19 Aug. 2023 The bright tart cranberry is tempered by dark fudge in this absolutely decadent holiday pie.—Torie Cox, Country Living, 8 Sep. 2023 Chicago closed last season with 10 consecutive losses, earning the No. 1 overall pick and using it to trade for Moore, and was ranked 23rd in offense and 32nd in defense, so expectations should be tempered.—Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, 7 Sep. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'temper.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English tempure, tempyr, temper "moderation, mixture of things in proper proportion, mental state," probably noun derivative of tempren, temperen "to mix with, soften, moderate" — more at temper entry 2
Middle English tempren, temperen "to be mixed with, mix with, soften, moderate, regulate, tune," in part going back to Old English temprian "to mix with, moderate," borrowed from Latin temperāre "to exercise moderation, restrain oneself, moderate, bring to a proper strength or consistency by mixing, maintain in a state of balance," perhaps derivative of temper-, variant stem of tempor-, tempus "period of time"; in part borrowed from Anglo-French temprer, tremper, going back to Latin temperāre — more at tempo
The derivation of temperāre from temper- and hence tempus is based on the hypothesis that the original meaning of the noun was "extent, measure"; however, it is not entirely certain that the meanings "to restrain" or "to bring to a suitable state by mixing" (whichever might be the original meaning of temperāre) are consonant with the idea of measuring.