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

Examples of tempera in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Writing on a computer and MIDI just doesn’t translate the same way, like oil versus tempera versus digital painting. Chris Willman, Variety, 6 Mar. 2024 Oils, temperas and charcoals will mingle to create a distinctive depiction of Southern Chile. Holly Jones, Variety, 30 Oct. 2023 The scenery is similar in both kinds of paintings, but where the oils have an Olympian detachment, the tempera ones pull the eye across the vastness and into curves of land and curls of clouds. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2023 The artist works most frequently with diluted oil paints but sometimes shifts to fast-drying egg tempera. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2023 The egg tempera on hardboard piece in vivid reds and yellows depicts two women in shawls clutching babies, one of them nursing, as well as a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and holding a flower pot containing a single red rose, America’s national flower. NBC News, 3 Mar. 2021 Temporary Painted Patterns Painting patterns with tempera on the outside of problematic windows is a fun approach. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 12 July 2023 The large tempera painting shows a group of colorfully clad people on a lawn, some eating or playing music, while others seem to be dancing. Kirsten Grieshaber, Fortune, 13 June 2023 One example the researchers point to is Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, which Sandro Botticelli painted with mostly tempera, though oil paint with egg yolk proteins has been detected in the background and certain other sections. Teresa Nowakowski, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tempera.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 20 Jun. 2024.

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

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