Definition of cadence in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkādns/


1A modulation or inflection of the voice: the measured cadences that he employed in the Senate
More example sentences
  • Her voice was the same, but the cadence and inflection of speech was entirely Karen's.
  • The opportunity to observe the witnesses, hear the inflections in voice, the cadence of speech, possible delays in answer, impart a great advantage to the trier who is on the scene.
  • My voice cadence changed, my speech began to race, and I was virtually incomprehensible to everyone around me.
intonation, modulation, lilt, accent, inflection;
rhythm, tempo, meter, beat, pulse;
Music  resolution
1.1A modulation in reading aloud as implied by the structure and ordering of words and phrases in written text: the dry cadences of the essay
More example sentences
  • But he read their blank verse cadences as cadences, and as poets writing within a Protestant tradition who were trying to also revive a mystical tradition.
  • The rhythmic cadence of the poetry was not the iambic pentameter or other such metrical patterns but free verse with words scattered randomly across the printed page.
  • Whenever I read that text, his cadences, his eloquence and his zeal come readily to mind.
1.2A fall in pitch of the voice at the end of a phrase or sentence.
Example sentences
  • Waiting for the closing cadence, a harbinger of your distraction, is like waiting for the poppy buds to split open and spill their compressed warmth, their inevitable defeat.
  • ‘Of course, you know, you lose a little square footage in commercial space,’ the man assured me with a sort of trailing off cadence.
  • All of which is to say that he has arrived at something of senior statesman status in the field (which is not to sound the cadence of either his retirement or his demise).
1.3Rhythm: the thumping cadence of the engines try to vary your cadence during a run
More example sentences
  • Self-carriage, cadence, rhythm, and hock engagement at all three gaits with the same speed and frame were the standards on which to judge.
  • They have cadence and a rhythm together, moving together easily, even in tight spaces.
  • Neither too fast nor too slow, in an even one-two cadence, swing the shih-tzu puppy in an arc from slightly below the level of your shoulders.
2 Music A sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase: the final cadences of the Prelude
More example sentences
  • Still others, believing they are in C, will dutifully ‘tweak’ the final phrase of the piece to return to the note C at the cadence, making for a somewhat jarring ending.
  • But due to the brevity of the arrangements, within a few bars the music takes a sharp and often abrupt turn to the final cadence in ways that are disruptive to a listener or a pianist familiar with the original themes.
  • The full force of the chromatic harmony was thrilling, as in such details as the cellos' dissonant flattened 6th just before the final cadence.



Pronunciation: /ˈkādnst/
Example sentences
  • For all their - almost - excess of expression, the lines are cadenced and paid out in a sort of listening rhythm, a very personal, measured gather and tumble of polysyllables, after the unhearing jack-hammer blast of the early poems.
  • We could almost hear the cadenced tread of feet.
  • One's admiration for this haunting and beautifully cadenced lament is likely to increase when we submit it to metrical analysis.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'rhythm or metrical beat'): via Old French from Italian cadenza, based on Latin cadere 'to fall'.

  • This has come via Old French from Italian cadenza, based on Latin cadere ‘to fall’. Cadenza (mid 18th century) is used as a musical term for a virtuoso solo passage usually inserted near the end of a movement in a concerto or other work. The phrase have a cadenza is used informally in South African English to mean ‘be extremely agitated’: this is said to be from Danny Kaye's The Little Fiddle, a humorous recording made in the 1940s.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ca·dence

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