temper

noun
tem·​per | \ ˈtem-pər How to pronounce temper (audio) \

Definition of temper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
2a : 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 propensities— T. B. Macaulay
d archaic : character, quality the temper of the land you design to sow— John Mortimer
3a : 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

verb
tempered; tempering\ ˈtem-​p(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce tempering (audio) \

Definition of temper (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else : moderate temper justice with mercy
2a : 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
5a : 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 both— Richard Steele

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Other Words from temper

Verb

temperable \ ˈtem-​p(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce temperable (audio) \ adjective
temperer \ ˈtem-​pər-​ər How to pronounce temperer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for temper

Noun

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

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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

He was known for a temper, and perhaps as widely disliked as liked, even among his friends. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "5 Great Works From Acclaimed Sci-Fi Author Harlan Ellison, Who Died at 84," 29 June 2018 Listen for Mars' quick temper, Jupiter's jovial dance, and Venus' serene tranquility. San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco Symphony presents Cosmic Wonders: Holst's ‘The Planets’," 22 Mar. 2018 If the anode was coated with negative charges, the scientists realized, those layers repel chloride and temper the rate of decay in the underlying metal. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Are Now Transforming Saltwater Into Hydrogen Fuel," 20 Mar. 2019 Inside the Senate, McCain’s humor became a trademark alongside his temper. Laurie Kellman, The Seattle Times, "McCain had a ‘wicked’ wit that he often aimed at himself," 27 Aug. 2018 In her book On the Fringe: A Life in Decorating, Taylor puts most of the blame on her boss and his notorious temper. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "What Camilla Parker Bowles Was Really Like Before She Became a Duchess," 1 Aug. 2018 Pearl is worn to calm an overactive mind and to control the temper. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "What’s Your Sign? Karen Elson on Her New Birthstone Perfume Bottle Tops," 18 Jan. 2019 The paradox is that over several years this could reduce the political tempers over the Supreme Court. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Next Kavanaugh Stakes," 7 Oct. 2018 Phil obviously lost his temper and was super frustrated. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "FORE Questions: Breaking Down an Eventful U.S. Open at Shinnecock," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cobb had managed upon joining Trump’s legal team last July to temper the president’s furor against Mueller, tamping down the expectation Trump would get rid of the special counsel. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "White House Lead Russia Lawyer Stepping Down and Trump’s Latest Tweet: Signs That Russia Investigation Is Getting Really Messy," 2 May 2018 The replacement cast will now be made up of advisers who could indulge Mr Trump’s worst instincts on national security, trade and legal defence rather than temper them. The Economist, "Personnel changes leave fewer checks on Donald Trump’s impulses," 28 Mar. 2018 Whisk about ½ cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks to temper them, then pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Jessica Battilana, San Francisco Chronicle, "Repertoire: Oeufs a la Neige, with guidance from State Bird’s Nicole Krasinski," 22 Mar. 2018 Employers should temper and shape new hires’ expectations by offering frequent feedback, clear information about realistic career paths and opportunities to build new skills, says Jody Michael, a Chicago career coach. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Office Rookies Who Ask for the World," 8 Apr. 2019 Hogsett’s explanation for the homicides — and latest plan to reduce them — has tempered criticism in the short term. James Briggs, Indianapolis Star, "At 16, she was shot in the back. Now she's working to curb violence in Indianapolis.," 7 June 2018 In an interview, Dr. David Scadden — a GoodCell co-founder and co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute — was more tempered about the product than some of the company’s marketing. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "Stem cell bank opens with backing from leading scientists. Is it worth the money?," 31 May 2018 Cohn's departure has raised concerns about who within the White House will seek to temper Mr. Trump's nationalistic instincts. CBS News, "Is it the end of a Goldman Sachs era at the White House, after Gary Cohn's exit?," 9 Mar. 2018 The glass used for Ball and Kerr canning jars is not tempered for oven use and is not meant to be used in baking projects. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "The Scary Reason You Should Never Bake Anything In a Mason Jar," 11 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'temper.' 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 temper

Noun

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

Verb

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

History and Etymology for temper

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.

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Learn More about temper

Dictionary Entries near temper

Tempe

tempean

tempeh

temper

tempera

temperality

temperament

Statistics for temper

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for temper

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

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More Definitions for temper

temper

noun

English Language Learners Definition of temper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the tendency of someone to become angry
: a state of being angry
: calmness of mind

temper

verb

English Language Learners Definition of temper (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to make (something) less severe or extreme
technical : to cause (something, such as steel or glass) to become hard or strong by heating it and cooling it

temper

noun
tem·​per | \ ˈtem-pər How to pronounce temper (audio) \

Kids Definition of temper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : characteristic state of feeling She has a very even temper.
2 : calmness of mind I lost my temper.
3 : a tendency to become angry Try to control your temper.
5 : the hardness or toughness of a substance (as metal)

temper

verb
tempered; tempering

Kids Definition of temper (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make less severe or extreme : soften Mountains temper the wind.
2 : to heat and cool a substance (as steel) until it is as hard, tough, or flexible as is wanted

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More from Merriam-Webster on temper

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for temper

Spanish Central: Translation of temper

Nglish: Translation of temper for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of temper for Arabic Speakers

Comments on temper

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