Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. With gradually diminishing force or loudness. Used chiefly as a direction.
  • n. A gradual decrease in force or loudness.
  • n. A decrescendo passage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An instruction to play gradually more softly.
  • v. To gradually become quieter
  • adj. becoming quieter gradually.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • With decreasing volume of sound; -- a direction to performers, either written upon the staff (abbreviated Dec., or Decresc.), or indicated by the sign.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, a gradual diminution of force; a passing from loud to soft: opposed to crescendo, and the same as diminuendo: often indicated by decres., dec., or the sign ⟩.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. gradually decreasing in volume
  • n. (music) a gradual decrease in loudness
  • v. grow quieter

Etymologies

Italian, gerund of decrescere, to decrease, from Latin dēcrēscere; see decrease.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian decrescendo. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The scene, she explains is a decrescendo, the denouement of everything that has happened before it; the build up and heyday of Rome; these women becoming trophy brides, the beautiful houses, clothes and hairdos - and it all falls apart.

    Spread ArtCulture: Interview: Eve Sussman - on the making of her film, Rape of the Sabine Women

  • Freedom feeds fillip and flames of frenzy in a few freak cases, but if it reaches a more feverish frequency, somebody ought to remind those folks to tone down their rhetorical crescendo to a decrescendo level.

    Pelosi gets emotional about political climate

  • My husband says our name for each other over and over, in a slow decrescendo.

    My Crush on Daniel Ortega

  • Grandpa Favre’ s play as the season wears is known to decrescendo, and this has already been one of the southern slinger’ s worst outings in his illustrious career.

    The interim coach vs. the replacements

  • The cry of birds grew faint, a rapid decrescendo to something less than a whisper.

    Record of a Living Being

  • In The Apple in the Dark, written in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just before she left her marriage, a black humor, conveyed through decrescendo and juxtaposition, is the offsetting fruit:

    The Brazilian Sphinx

  • Perhaps most easily observed, is Obama's way of ending statements with a decrescendo – settling his statement into a soft landing in the deeper part of his baritone range.

    The 'Obama Effect' on Our Language

  • In Mozart's dark-hued Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, Mr. Tao showed appealing freshness in his use of telling, expressive details that distinguish one interpretation from the next -- a slight decrescendo here, a change of tonal color there, a heartfelt response to the piece.

    The Tao of Early Musical Success

  • And a crescendo and decrescendo wave of "Awwwwwwww!" as the ball shoots under the crossbar.

    My Short, Manic Time in the NFL

  • Still there are signs Coulter's career might be on decrescendo judging from the melodramatic and dated tone to her new bestseller, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd be Republicans.

    How To Read Ann Coulter If You Must

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