Definition of temper in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtempər/


1 [in singular] A person’s state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm: he rushed out in a very bad temper
More example sentences
  • Gabe stalked over to the weapons rack and pulled down two wooden staves, in a bad temper because his preferred sword hadn't been chosen.
  • Her temper was sweet and calm, much like a sheep's, until she had a blade in her hand, and then she was as quick and merciless as a she-wolf.
  • His temper had not calmed from his earlier encounter with the Johnson twins.
1.1A tendency to become angry easily: I know my temper gets the better of me at times
More example sentences
  • He had to overcome a violent temper and a tendency to excessive self-criticism.
  • The coach is a modest, quiet man; Olga has a temper, is easily hurt and wants to do everything her own way.
  • I have a flaming temper and have a tendency to rebound people's accusations back on them, especially if I'm not feeling good.
anger, fury, rage, annoyance, vexation, irritation, irritability, ill humor, spleen, pique, petulance, testiness, tetchiness, touchiness, crabbiness
literary ire, choler
1.2An angry state of mind: Drew had walked out in a temper I only said it in a fit of temper
More example sentences
  • He tends to karate kick the office partition when he's in a temper.
  • Molly stamps her foot in a temper.
  • I have a tendency toward being a bit of a nag to Chris, and I guess I put him in a temper.
fit of rage, rage, fury, fit of pique, tantrum, bad mood, mood, sulk, huff
informal grump, snit, hissy fit
2The degree of hardness and elasticity in steel or other metal: the blade rapidly heats up and the metal loses its temper
More example sentences
  • In this connection it is well known that molybdenum additions to Ni-Cr steels can eliminate temper embrittlement.
  • The resistance to atmospheric corrosion is improved and copper steels can be temper hardened.
  • Alloys in the T4 temper are susceptible to room-temperature aging.


[with object]
1Improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it.
Example sentences
  • Nearly always forged and tempered, stainless steel blades hold an edge well.
  • Quenched and tempered structural steels are primarily available in the form of plate or bar products.
  • Within a couple of years he found himself running a part-time business making custom knives in the purest form - from steel he forged and tempered himself.
1.1Improve the consistency or resiliency of (a substance) by heating it or adding particular substances to it.
Example sentences
  • Some of these components can be tempered by residual heating.
  • The blanks are made of relatively soft glass and must be tempered, either by chemicals or heat, to strengthen them before inserting into the frame.
  • This process includes tempering, which consists of repeatedly heating the chocolate to a specific temperature and then cooling it down.
harden, strengthen, toughen, fortify, anneal
2 (often be tempered with) Serve as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something): their idealism is tempered with realism
More example sentences
  • The heat is tempered by sea breezes on the coast.
  • The island's climate is semi-tropical; yearlong rainfall keeps it green; heat and humidity are tempered by soft breezes.
  • Always remember, however, that sea breezes will temper the heat and might cool things considerably.
moderate, modify, modulate, mitigate, alleviate, reduce, weaken, lighten, soften
3Tune (a piano or other instrument) so as to adjust the note intervals correctly.
Example sentences
  • The technician is trained on tempering the piano for tuning.
  • In tempering the piano, we narrow the fifths and widen the fourths.



keep (or lose) one's temper

Refrain (or fail to refrain) from becoming angry.
Example sentences
  • She is frightened at first, and then becomes angry, soon losing her temper.
  • I always got angry easily and would lose my temper like that.
  • General Powell lost his temper and fired the gun into the air.
composure, equanimity, self-control, self-possession, sangfroid, calm, good humor
informal cool
get angry, fly into a rage, erupt, lose control, go berserk, breathe fire, flare up, boil over
informal go mad, go crazy, go bananas, have a fit, see red, fly off the handle, blow one's top, hit the roof, go off the deep end, go ape, flip, freak out

out of temper

In an irritable mood.
Example sentences
  • A lifelong friend has never known him to be out of temper or speak ill words of others.
  • He was out of temper; and he looked up with an angry scowl.
  • It was not that he was out of temper with Simon.



Example sentences
  • Their temperers are considered some of the best machines in the business, as evidenced by their client list.
  • Four common types of automated temperers are used - tempering kettle, plate heat exchanger, screw type temperer, and bowl type temperer.
  • Fabricating debris is a known quality control issue that can be minimized when temperers follow all recommended maintenance procedures for washers, rollers and other tempering equipment.


Old English temprian 'bring something into the required condition by mixing it with something else', from Latin temperare 'mingle, restrain oneself'. Sense development was probably influenced by Old French temprer 'to temper, moderate'. The noun originally denoted a proportionate mixture of elements or qualities, also the combination of the four bodily humors, believed in medieval times to be the basis of temperament, hence sense 1 of the noun (late Middle English). Compare with temperament.

  • The first sense of temper was ‘a person's state of mind’, either angry or calm. The word goes back ultimately to Latin temperare ‘to mingle’, and in medieval times the noun referred to the right balance in a mixture of elements or qualities, still used of metals. It was particularly associated with the thought of the combination of the four bodily humours ( see humour) believed to control whether you were naturally calm, optimistic, melancholy, or irritable. This dictated what kind of temperament you had, a Late Middle English term from the Latin for ‘correct mixture’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tem·per

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