Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
June 2nd, 2016
Episode 543 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 2, 2016 is: cadence \KAY-dunss\ noun 1 a : a rhythmic sequence or flow of sounds in language b : the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity 2 a : a falling inflection of the voice b : a musical chord sequence moving to a harmonic close or rest 3 : the modulated and rhythmic recurrence of a sound especially in nature Examples: Stephanie relaxed at the beach, listening to the cadence of the surf. "The app detects your natural cadence when you walk or run, and cues up a playlist that matches your rhythm." — Alison Sweeney, Redbook, 1 Apr. 2016 Did you know? Falling into the hands of English speakers in the 14th century, cadence derives via Middle English and Old Italian from the Latin verb cadere, meaning "to fall." (Cadere can be found in the history of many common English words, including decay, coincide, and accident.) We most often hear cadence used in contexts pertaining to voice or music—it might refer to the familiar way in which someone speaks, or the rhythms employed by a rap artist, or the rising and falling notes of a bird's call. Cadenza, the Old Italian word that factors into the history of cadence, has its own place in English as well. Cadenza in English usually refers to a brilliant musical flourish played before closing out an aria.