tem·po | \ ˈtem-(ˌ)pō \
plural tempi\ˈtem-(ˌ)pē \ or tempos

Definition of tempo 

1 : the rate of speed of a musical piece or passage indicated by one of a series of directions (such as largo, presto, or allegro) and often by an exact metronome marking

2 : rate of motion or activity : pace

Examples of tempo in a Sentence

The song has a slow tempo. The composition has many changes of tempo. We walked at a fast tempo. The tempo of the game slowed down. The dance starts out fast and then switches tempo.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Improved tempo was something Lewis wanted to see, too. Jason Jones, sacbee, "The Kings want to 'get out and run.' Why that best suits Justin Jackson's game," 9 July 2018 Pitch isn’t the only area where the difference between music and noise is hard to pin down: marking time—tempo—is also an essential part of music. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 The room is kept dark and the music is loud, with playlists that fall heavy with high tempo house music, but also the occasional pop artist, such as James Blunt or Pink. Grace Dickinson, Philly.com, "Which Philly-area spin studio classes are worth the hype and heavy price tag?," 29 May 2018 Fans of Low, Soundgarden, and Bedhead will dig its crunchy melodies and satisfying, almost headbang-able tempos. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "Hogg drop a new LP of tense, ritualistic throb ’n’ roll," 1 May 2018 There are so many training programs out there that talk about mile repeats, tempo runs, long runs. Health.com, "How to Harness Your Mental Strength, According to Marathon Record Holder Deena Kastor," 10 Apr. 2018 Perform squats at a 1-2 down and a 1-2 up tempo for 10-20 repetitions. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stepping up your training can boost your heart, lower-body muscles," 11 July 2018 For all of its talk about wanting a high-scoring tempo, West Virginia was 8-11 when the opponent scored 70. John Smallwood, Philly.com, "'Press Virginia' won't change because it's playing Villanova in March Madness," 22 Mar. 2018 Why Florida State will win: The Seminoles play a fast pace and score a lot of points (81.7 ppg), so their best chance may be pushing Missouri past a comfortable tempo. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "2018 March Madness schedule: Friday's NCAA tournament times, TV guide, info," 16 Mar. 2018

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

circa 1724, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tempo

Italian, literally, time, from Latin tempus

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Statistics for tempo

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for tempo

The first known use of tempo was circa 1724

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More Definitions for tempo



English Language Learners Definition of tempo

: the speed at which a musical piece is played or sung

: the speed at which something moves or happens


tem·po | \ ˈtem-pō \
plural tempi\-ˌpē \ or tempos

Kids Definition of tempo

: the rate of speed at which a musical composition is played or sung

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More from Merriam-Webster on tempo

Spanish Central: Translation of tempo

Nglish: Translation of tempo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tempo for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tempo

What made you want to look up tempo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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