temper

1 of 2

noun

tem·​per ˈtem-pər How to pronounce temper (audio)
1
a
: heat of mind or emotion : proneness to anger : passion
she has a real temper
b
: calmness of mind : composure
c
: state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion
d
: a characteristic cast of mind or state of feeling : disposition
2
a
: characteristic tone : trend
the temper of the times
b
: high quality of mind or spirit : courage
c
archaic : a suitable proportion or balance of qualities : a middle state between extremes : mean, medium
virtue is … a just temper between propensitiesT. B. Macaulay
d
archaic : character, quality
the temper of the land you design to sowJohn Mortimer
3
a
: the state of a substance with respect to certain desired qualities (such as hardness, elasticity, or workability)
especially : the degree of hardness or resiliency given steel by tempering
b
: the feel and relative solidity of leather
4
: a substance (such as a metal) added to or mixed with something else (such as another metal) to modify the properties of the latter

temper

2 of 2

verb

tempered; tempering ˈtem-p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce temper (audio)

transitive verb

1
: to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else : moderate
temper justice with mercy
2
a
: to anneal or toughen (glass) by a process of gradually heating and cooling
b(1)
: to harden (a material, such as steel) by reheating and cooling in oil
(2)
: to soften (a material, such as hardened steel or cast iron) by reheating at a lower temperature
3
: to make stronger and more resilient through hardship : toughen
troops tempered in battle
4
: to bring to a suitable state by mixing in or adding a usually liquid ingredient: such as
a
: to mix (clay) with water or a modifier (such as grog) and knead to a uniform texture
b
: to mix oil with (colors) in making paint ready for use
5
a
: to put in tune with something : attune
b
: to adjust the pitch of (a note, chord, or instrument) to a temperament
6
archaic
a
: to exercise control over : govern, restrain
b
: to cause to be well disposed : mollify
tempered and reconciled them bothRichard Steele
temperable adjective
temperer noun

Did you know?

Mix Things Up With the Meaning of Temper

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for temper

disposition, temperament, temper, character, personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group.

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

Noun 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
That means there’s plenty of time for the Fed to recalibrate their messaging and temper market expectations. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 10 July 2024 How to Manage Toddlers Hitting Themselves When parents are unable to prevent their toddlers from hitting themselves, there are effective ways to handle the temper tantrums. Amy Morin, Parents, 8 July 2024
Verb
Grilling transforms them, softening and amplifying their sweetness, while tempering the sugars with char and smoke. Lynda Balslev, The Mercury News, 8 July 2024 Indeed, even a long-time bear like Wilson has tempered his tone from the past few years. Ryan Hogg, Fortune, 8 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for temper 

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

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

Note: 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.

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2c

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of temper was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near temper

Cite this Entry

“Temper.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temper. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

temper

1 of 2 verb
tem·​per ˈtem-pər How to pronounce temper (audio)
tempered; tempering -p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce temper (audio)
1
: moderate entry 2 sense 1, soften
temper justice with mercy
2
: to control by reducing : subdue
temper one's anger
3
: to bring (as steel or glass) to the desired hardness or strength by heating and cooling
4
: to be or become tempered

temper

2 of 2 noun
1
: characteristic manner of feeling
the temper of the times
2
: the hardness or toughness of a substance
the temper of a knife blade
3
a
: a characteristic state of mind or state of feeling : disposition
b
: calmness of mind : composure
lost my temper
c
: state of feeling or state of mind at a particular time
d
: a state of anger
left in a temper
e
: the quality of being easily angered
has a hot temper

More from Merriam-Webster on temper

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