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[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 tempo
  • When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect.
  • For many corporations, the work tempo of academics is zealously advocated as a model for their high-wage employees.
  • The government points out that it has tried less drastic ways of reducing the tempo menace.
  • Waiting for her friends after school, she would bang on her legs and stamp her feat, marking the tempo with her voice.
  • Both of those really challenge me to keep my feet organized and on tempo.
  • If a song's tempo is changed without changing its pitch, his head-bobbing and leg-lifting change time to match.
  • We decided to let the player control the tempo of the music performance by waving a baton in the marching band.
  • It keeps the group together and keeps folks from rushing or dragging the tempo.
  • She reaches the edge of the stage, and the tempo soars.
  • Once all the organs are out, the tempo picks up in the operating room.
British Dictionary definitions for 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 tempo

"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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tempo 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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tempo in Technology

A programming language with simple syntax and semantics designed for teaching semantic and pragmatic aspects of programming languages.
["TEMPO: A Unified Treatment of Binding Time and Parameter Passing Concepts in Programming Languages", N.D. Jones et al, LNCS 66, Springer 1978].

operating system
The original code name for Mac OS version 8.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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