tem·​pera ˈtem-pə-rə How to pronounce tempera (audio)
: a process of painting in which an albuminous or colloidal medium (such as egg yolk) is employed as a vehicle instead of oil
also : a painting done in tempera

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web They were known as masters of the new medium of oil painting, which allowed unprecedented levels of refined detail, as compared to the older medium egg tempera. Benjamin Lima, Dallas News, 11 Mar. 2023 Holi Hands Gather a variety of colored tempera paints and a few paintbrushes. Christina Montoya Fiedler, Woman's Day, 24 Feb. 2023 Mark Rothko, Red and Pink on Pink, c.1953, tempera on paper mounted on board with acrylic painted surround. Celia Ellenberg, Vogue, 15 Sep. 2022 In Andy’s studio, a bowl of deep purple mussel shells stained with paint sit on a table next to an easel; Wyeth mixed his delicate egg tempera pigments in those shells, which lent them their preternatural tones. Murray Whyte, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Aug. 2022 For this Easter egg painting project, simply find several colors of washable tempera paint and ½-inch-wide flat paintbrushes, then go wild with designs! Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Oct. 2022 Available classes include tempera painting for children ages six to 10, an outdoor photograph workshop on Sept. 24, watercolor painting and acrylics. Hartford Courant, 8 Sep. 2022 Most spectacular is a watercolor and tempera plan of the library’s floor mosaic, a consummate study in the adjustment of color values, coming to rest on a central disk of antique porphyry. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, 27 July 2022 Using the classical egg tempera method of painting, de la Hoz explored a range of concepts and characters in the series. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tempera.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from Italian, "tempera, mixture, temperament, constitution" (in modern Italian usually tempra in figurative senses), noun derivative of temperare, temprare "to mix in the proper proportion, moderate," going back to Latin temperāre "to moderate, bring to a proper strength or consistency by mixing" — more at temper entry 2

First Known Use

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tempera was in 1832

Dictionary Entries Near tempera

Cite this Entry

“Tempera.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tempera. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


tem·​pera ˈtem-pə-rə How to pronounce tempera (audio)
: a process of painting in which the colors are mixed with substances (as egg, glue, or gum) other than oil

More from Merriam-Webster on tempera

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

What Did You Just Call Me?

  • brown chihuahua sitting on the floor with squinting eyes looking at the camera
  • Before we went to her house, Hannah told us her aunt was a flibbertigibbet.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?