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

  • n. Balanced, rhythmic flow, as of poetry or oratory.
  • n. The measure or beat of movement, as in dancing or marching.
  • n. A falling inflection of the voice, as at the end of a sentence.
  • n. General inflection or modulation of the voice.
  • n. Music A progression of chords moving to a harmonic close, point of rest, or sense of resolution.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Balanced, rhythmic flow.
  • n. The measure or beat of movement.
  • n. The general inflection or modulation of the voice.
  • n. A progression of at least two chords which conclude a piece of music, section or musical phrases within it. Sometimes referred to analogously as musical punctuation.
  • n. A fall in inflection of a speaker’s voice, such as at the end of a sentence.
  • n. A dance move which ends a phrase.
  • n. The rhythm and sequence of a series of actions.
  • n. The number of steps per minute.
  • n. The number of revolutions per minute of the cranks or pedals of a bicycle.
  • n. A chant that is sung by military personnel while running or marching; a jody call.
  • v. To give a cadence to.
  • v. To give structure to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act or state of declining or sinking.
  • n. A fall of the voice in reading or speaking, especially at the end of a sentence.
  • n. A rhythmical modulation of the voice or of any sound.
  • n. Rhythmical flow of language, in prose or verse.
  • n. See Cadency.
  • n. Harmony and proportion in motions, as of a well-managed horse.
  • n. A uniform time and place in marching.
  • n.
  • n. The close or fall of a strain; the point of rest, commonly reached by the immediate succession of the tonic to the dominant chord.
  • n. A cadenza, or closing embellishment; a pause before the end of a strain, which the performer may fill with a flight of fancy.
  • transitive v. To regulate by musical measure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To regulate by musical measure: as, well-cadenced music.
  • n. A fall; a decline; a state of falling or sinking.
  • n. A fall of the voice in reading or speaking, as at the end of a sentence; also, the falling of the voice in the general modulation of tones in reciting.
  • n. A regular and agreeable succession of measured sounds or movements; rhythmic flow, as the general modulation of the voice in reading or speaking, or of natural sounds.
  • n. Specifically In music: A harmonic formula or sequence of chords that expresses conclusion, finality, repose, occurring at the end of a phrase or period, and involving a clear enunciation of the tonality or key in which a piece is written. See phrases below.
  • n. The concluding part of a melody or harmony, or the concluding part of a metrical line or verse: as, the plaintive cadence of a song. Also called a fall.
  • n. Especially, in France, a trill or other embellishment used as part of an ending, or as a means of return to a principal theme. Compare cadenza.
  • n. Measure or beat of any rhythmical movement, such as dancing or marching.
  • n. In the manège, an equal measure or proportion observed by a horse in all his motions.
  • n. In heraldry, descent; a device upon the escutcheon by which the descent of each member of a family is shown.
  • n. Proportion.
  • n. the chord of the dominant followed by that of the tonic; also, the chord of the dominant seventh followed by that of the tonic. These two forms of the perfect cadence were in ancient church modes called authentic, in distinction from the plagal cadence. An example of each form in C major is here given. The end of a piece should properly be a complete cadence, incomplete and interrupted cadences being suitably only as temporary endings for phrases or periods in the midst of a piece.
  • n. a cadence formed by a chord foreign to that which was expected, thus evading the close and deceiving expectation. Thus, in the example, the second chord has A in the bass instead of C, which is naturally expected. Also called suspended cadence.
  • n. The modulation or manner of utterance peculiar to a particular locality or language.
  • n. In music, a trill-like ornament, the reverse of the battement (which see).

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

  • n. the close of a musical section
  • n. (prosody) the accent in a metrical foot of verse
  • n. a recurrent rhythmical series


Middle English, from Old French *cadence, from Old Italian cadenza, from Vulgar Latin *cadentia, a falling, from Latin cadēns, cadent-, present participle of cadere, to fall; see kad- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French cadence, from Italian cadenza, from Latin cadentia. (Wiktionary)



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