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

  • transitive v. To modify by the addition of a moderating element; moderate: "temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom” ( Robert H. Jackson). See Synonyms at moderate.
  • transitive v. To bring to a desired consistency, texture, hardness, or other physical condition by or as if by blending, admixing, or kneading: temper clay; paints that had been tempered with oil.
  • transitive v. To harden or strengthen (metal or glass) by application of heat or by heating and cooling.
  • transitive v. To strengthen through experience or hardship; toughen: soldiers who had been tempered by combat.
  • transitive v. To adjust finely; attune: a portfolio that is tempered to the investor's needs.
  • transitive v. Music To adjust (the pitch of an instrument) to a temperament.
  • intransitive v. To be or become tempered.
  • n. A state of mind or emotions; disposition: an even temper. See Synonyms at mood1.
  • n. Calmness of mind or emotions; composure: lose one's temper.
  • n. A tendency to become easily angry or irritable: a quick temper.
  • n. An outburst of rage: a fit of temper.
  • n. A characteristic general quality; tone: heroes who exemplified the medieval temper; the politicized temper of the 1930s.
  • n. The condition of being tempered.
  • n. The degree of hardness and elasticity of a metal, chiefly steel, achieved by tempering.
  • n. A modifying substance or agent added to something else.
  • n. Archaic A middle course between extremes; a mean.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tendency to be of a certain type of mood.
  • n. State of mind.
  • n. The heat treatment to which a metal or other material has been subjected; a material that has undergone a particular heat treatment.
  • v. To moderate or control.
  • v. To heat-treat a material, especially metal or chocolate.
  • v. To mix clay, plaster or mortar with water to obtain the proper consistency
  • v. To combine in due proportions; to constitute; to compose.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The state of any compound substance which results from the mixture of various ingredients; due mixture of different qualities; just combination.
  • n. Constitution of body; temperament; in old writers, the mixture or relative proportion of the four humors, blood, choler, phlegm, and melancholy.
  • n. Disposition of mind; the constitution of the mind, particularly with regard to the passions and affections
  • n. Calmness of mind; moderation; equanimity; composure.
  • n. Heat of mind or passion; irritation; proneness to anger; -- in a reproachful sense.
  • n. The state of a metal or other substance, especially as to its hardness, produced by some process of heating or cooling.
  • n. Middle state or course; mean; medium.
  • n. Milk of lime, or other substance, employed in the process formerly used to clarify sugar.
  • intransitive v. To accord; to agree; to act and think in conformity.
  • intransitive v. To have or get a proper or desired state or quality; to grow soft and pliable.
  • transitive v. To mingle in due proportion; to prepare by combining; to modify, as by adding some new element; to qualify, as by an ingredient; hence, to soften; to mollify; to assuage; to soothe; to calm.
  • transitive v. To fit together; to adjust; to accomodate.
  • transitive v. To bring to a proper degree of hardness.
  • transitive v. To govern; to manage.
  • transitive v. To moisten to a proper consistency and stir thoroughly, as clay for making brick, loam for molding, etc.
  • transitive v. To adjust, as the mathematical scale to the actual scale, or to that in actual use.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In leather-manufacturing, to apply to (hides) a process in which the hides, after they are practically finished, are dampened, covered in piles, and allowed to stand and season, the drier hides absorbing moisture from the damper ones, and vice versa.
  • To modify by mixing; mix; blend; combine; compound.
  • To combine in due proportions; constitute; adjust; fit.
  • To moisten, mix, and work up into proper consistency; prepare by moistening, mixing, or kneading.
  • To modify or qualify by blending: as, to temper indignation with pity.
  • Hence To restrain; moderate; mitigate; soften; tone down the violence, severity, or harshness of; mollify; soothe; calm.
  • In music, to tune or adjust the pitch of (the tones of an instrument of fixed intonation, like an organ or pianoforte), with reference to a selected principle of tuning.
  • To attune.
  • To govern; control; regulate; train.
  • To bring to a proper degree of hardness and elasticity for use, as steel or other metal.
  • To dispose.
  • To accord; keep agreement.
  • To become soft and plastic; be molded; acquire a desired quality or state.
  • n. A metal or alloy added to another to produce certain physical properties; specifically, an alloy of one part of copper and two of tin to be added to pure tin to produce a fine grade of pewter; an alloy containing arsenic with lead sometimes added to the molten metal to give hardness to shot.
  • n. Mixture or combination of different ingredients or qualities, especially in the way and the proportions best suited for some specific purpose: as, the temper of mortar.
  • n. Constitution; consistency; form; definite state or condition.
  • n. Temperament.
  • n. Disposition of mind; frame of mind; inclination; humor; mood: as, a calm temper; a hasty temper; a sullen or a fretful temper.
  • n. Calmness of mind; temperateness; moderation; self-restraint; tranquillity; good temper.
  • n. Heat of mind or passion; irritation; disposition to give way to anger, resentment, or the like: as, he showed a great deal of temper.
  • n. Middle character or course; mean or medium; compromise.
  • n. The state of a metal, particularly as to its hardness and elasticity: as, the temper of iron or steel.
  • n. In sugar-works, white lime or other alkaline substance stirred into a clarifier filled with cane-juice, to neutralize the excess of acid.

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

  • n. a characteristic (habitual or relatively temporary) state of feeling
  • v. make more temperate, acceptable, or suitable by adding something else; moderate
  • v. restrain
  • v. harden by reheating and cooling in oil
  • v. adjust the pitch (of pianos)
  • v. bring to a desired consistency, texture, or hardness by a process of gradually heating and cooling
  • n. a sudden outburst of anger
  • n. the elasticity and hardness of a metal object; its ability to absorb considerable energy before cracking
  • n. a disposition to exhibit uncontrolled anger


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

Middle English temperen, from Old English temprian, from Latin temperāre, probably from variant of tempus, tempor-, time, season.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English temperen, from Old English *temprian, from Latin temperare ("to divide or proportion duly, mingle in due proportion, qualify, temper, regulate, rule, intransitive observe measure, be moderate or temperate"), from tempus ("time, fit season"); see temporal.



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  • Contronymic in the sense: temper tantrum vs. soften, ameliorate.

    January 31, 2007