a technique of painting in which an emulsion consisting of water and pure egg yolk or a mixture of egg and oil is used as a binder or medium, characterized by its lean film-forming properties and rapid drying rate.
a painting executed in this technique.
a water paint used in this technique in which the egg-water or egg-oil emulsion is used as a binder. Compare distemper2 ( defs 1, 2 ).

1825–35; < Italian, short for (pingere a) tempera (painting in) distemper, derivative of temperare to mingle, temper; see temper

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World English Dictionary
tempera (ˈtɛmpərə)
1.  a painting medium for powdered pigments, consisting usually of egg yolk and water
2.  a.  any emulsion used as a painting medium, with casein, glue, wax, etc, as a base
 b.  the paint made from mixing this with pigment
3.  the technique of painting with tempera
[C19: from Italian phrase pingere a tempera painting in tempera, from temperare to mingle; see temper]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1832, from It. tempera (in phrase pingere a tempera), from temperare "to mix colors, temper," from L. temperare "to mix" (see temper).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Egg tempera paint has been used by artists since ancient times.
Then, have them form river channels and coat with blue enamel paint and color
  the land with tempera paint.
Oils allow painters to use techniques unimaginable with egg tempera.
Linen has been primed to receive tempera and oil, and a technique has been
  devised to create portable frescoes.
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