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[tem-pee] /ˈtɛm pi/
a plural of tempo.


[tem-poh] /ˈtɛm poʊ/
noun, plural tempos, tempi
[tem-pee] /ˈtɛm pi/ (Show IPA)
Music. relative rapidity or rate of movement, usually indicated by such terms as adagio, allegro, etc., or by reference to the metronome.
characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern of work or activity:
the tempo of city life.
Chess. the gaining or losing of time and effectiveness relative to one's continued mobility or developing position, especially with respect to the number of moves required to gain an objective:
Black gained a tempo.
Origin of tempo
1680-90; < Italian < Latin tempus time Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tempi
Historical Examples
  • I heard it at rehearsal yesterday—I suppose Thelème took the tempi too slow!

    Visionaries James Huneker
  • In three movements of which the tempi are indicated by Bach.

    Bach Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • The tempi Madonna holds him to her heart, pressing her lips to his soft cheek.

    The Madonna in Art Estelle M. Hurll
  • "They will soon be tempi passati, these giorni felice," he said, sighing.

  • Beethoven had complied with the publisher's desire and sent a slip of paper with the tempi marked metronomically.

    Great Pianists on Piano Playing James Francis Cooke
  • I lived with them like a sultan, and still I delight to recall this happy time, and I say with a sigh, 'tempi passati'!

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • The conductor dragged the tempi; the waits were interminable, and a young slip of a girl wonderingly watched.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
  • (p. 148) But Rgnier would not hear of it; he stuck to his original conception in four tempi.

    An Englishman in Paris Albert D. (Albert Dresden) Vandam
  • The character of these pieces is prevailingly sentimental, and the tempi were not so quick then as now.

    The Voice in Singing Emma Seiler
  • Unfortunately, at the express desire of the Prince, almost all the tempi were taken too quick, and thereby much spoiled.

British Dictionary definitions for tempi


(in musical senses) the plural of tempo


noun (pl) -pos, -pi (-piː)
the speed at which a piece or passage of music is meant to be played, usually indicated by a musical direction (tempo marking) or metronome marking
rate or pace
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, from Latin tempus time
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tempi



"relative speed of a piece of music," 1724, from Italian tempo, literally "time" (plural tempi), from Latin tempus (genitive temporis) "time" (see temporal). Extended to non-musical senses 1898.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tempi in Culture

tempo definition

In music, the speed at which a piece is performed. It is the Italian word for “time.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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