temperament

noun
tem·​per·​a·​ment | \ ˈtem-p(ə-)rə-mənt How to pronounce temperament (audio) , -pər-mənt\

Definition of temperament

1a : characteristic or habitual inclination or mode of emotional response a nervous temperament
b : extremely high sensibility especially : excessive sensitiveness or irritability
c : the peculiar or distinguishing mental or physical character determined by the relative proportions of the humors according to medieval physiology
2a : the act or process of tempering or modifying : adjustment, compromise
b : middle course : mean
3 : the slight modification of acoustically pure intervals in tuning a musical instrument especially : modification that produces a set of 12 equally spaced tones to the octave

4 obsolete

a : constitution of a substance, body, or organism with respect to the mixture or balance of its elements, qualities, or parts : makeup

5 obsolete

a : climate

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Synonyms for temperament

Synonyms

disposition, grain, nature, temper

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Choose the Right Synonym for temperament

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

Why is temperament spelled the way it is?

Blame Latin.

Like the related noun temper (which most often refers to a person's tendency to become angry, but also has a neutral sense very close to that of temperament, among other meanings) temperament traces back to a Latin word, temperare, which means "to mix or blend." The a in temperare lives on in the modern spelling of temperament.

Temperament is an old word (it dates to the 15th century) with multiple meanings, but in modern use it typically refers to the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal. If you're adopting a dog, you might look for one with a sweet temperament; you might describe someone who is often nervous as having a nervous temperament.

What is the difference between disposition and predisposition?

What exactly is someone's disposition? And is it different from a predisposition? A person's disposition is his or her usual mood or attitude. Are you typically pretty happy? You could be described as having a happy—or cheerful, or sunny—disposition. Animals have dispositions too; a dog with a nervous disposition doesn't easily relax into a restful pup curled up at someone’s feet. In this use, disposition is a synonym of temperament; both words refer to the complex set of attitudes and inclinations that guide behavior.

Disposition can also mean "tendency" or "inclination," and in such cases it has a surprising synonym: predisposition. A disposition to exaggerate is the same as a predisposition to exaggerate. A disposition toward humility is likewise the same thing as a predisposition toward humility. The fact of being "in advance" that the prefix pre- implies hardly matters when tendency and inclination are concerned, since both concern what is likely to happen in the future.

While phrases like "a disposition to cooperate" are about as common as "a predisposition to cooperate," when the context is medical, predisposition is far more common. Phrases like "a genetic predisposition to nearsightedness" appear much more frequently in published, edited text than similar phrases employing disposition.

Examples of temperament in a Sentence

The two women were opposite in temperament. looking for a dog with a sweet temperament

Recent Examples on the Web

In fact, stress in a dog appears to be more closely linked to the stress of its owner than it to the dog’s own temperament. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "Coming home stressed? Your dog is internalizing those bad vibes too, study suggests," 6 June 2019 Judge Weinstein, who has sat in Federal District Court in Brooklyn for more than 50 years, has long been known for his progressive leanings and iconoclastic temperament. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Brooklyn Judge Vows Not to Send People Back to Prison for Smoking Marijuana," 5 July 2018 Second, this phenomenon can be viewed through the lens of cross-cultural differences in personality or temperament. Samuel Putnam, Washington Post, "Russians don’t smile much, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like you," 30 June 2018 Whitaker's ability to adapt depending on the type or temperament of a horse has helped him collect 24 medals at Olympic, World and European championships during his long, distinguished career. Aly Vance, CNN, "John Whitaker: The 62-year-old eying the Tokyo Olympics," 29 May 2018 It must be hoped by the franchise and its fans that Lauer’s stuff does play at this level, because his temerity and temperament certainly do. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres rookie Eric Lauer rocked in debut," 24 Apr. 2018 There are many factors that go into finding what is right for your family, including the child's age, temperament, and past experiences. Lindsey Benoit O’connell, Good Housekeeping, "I Hired a Baby Sleep Coach, But It Turns Out I Was The One Who Needed Training," 3 May 2019 Judge Kavanaugh has received rave reviews for his 12-year track record as a judge, including for his judicial temperament. Stavros Agorakis, Vox, "Read the full transcript of Sen. Collins’s speech announcing she’ll vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh," 5 Oct. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for temperament

Middle English, "regulation of the body's vital spirit, proportion of humors in the body," borrowed from Latin temperāmentum "mixture of substances in proper proportion, mean between hot and cold, compromise between extremes, moderation" (Medieval Latin, "proper balance of bodily humors"), from temperāre "to moderate, bring to a proper strength or consistency by mixing, maintain in a state of balance" + -mentum -ment — more at temper entry 2

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More Definitions for temperament

temperament

noun

English Language Learners Definition of temperament

: the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal

temperament

noun
tem·​per·​a·​ment | \ ˈtem-pə-rə-mənt How to pronounce temperament (audio) , -prə-mənt\

Kids Definition of temperament

: a person's attitude as it affects what he or she says or does “Size has nothing to do with it. It's temperament and ability that count.”— E. B. White, Stuart Little

temperament

noun
tem·​per·​a·​ment | \ ˈtem-p(ə-)rə-mənt, -pər-mənt How to pronounce temperament (audio) \

Medical Definition of temperament

1 : the peculiar or distinguishing mental or physical character determined by the relative proportions of the humors according to medieval physiology
2 : characteristic or habitual inclination or mode of emotional response a nervous temperament

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Comments on temperament

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