noun, plural tem·pos, tem·pi [tem-pee] /ˈtɛm pi/.

  1. Music. relative rapidity or rate of movement, usually indicated by such terms as adagio, allegro, etc., or by reference to the metronome.
  2. characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern of work or activity: the tempo of city life.
  3. Chess. the gaining or losing of time and effectiveness relative to one’s continued mobility or developing position, especially with respect to the number of moves required to gain an objective: Black gained a tempo.

adverb Music.

  1. resuming the speed obtained preceding ritardando or accelerando.

noun plural -pos or -pi (-piː)

  1. the speed at which a piece or passage of music is meant to be played, usually indicated by a musical direction (tempo marking) or metronome marking
  2. rate or pace

adjective, adverb

  1. to the original tempo


  1. a passage thus marked

n.“relative speed of a piece of music,” 1724, from Italian tempo, literally “time” (plural tempi), from Latin tempus (genitive temporis) “time” (see temporal). Extended to non-musical senses 1898. In music, the speed at which a piece is performed. It is the Italian word for “time.”

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