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See also: Cadence and cadencé


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Borrowed from Middle French cadence, from Italian cadenza, from Latin *cadentia, form of cadēns, form of cadō (I fall, I cease), from Proto-Italic *kadō, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱad- (to fall). Doublet of cadenza and chance.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkeɪ.dn̩s/
    • (file)


cadence (countable and uncountable, plural cadences)

  1. The act or state of declining or sinking.
  2. Balanced, rhythmic flow.
    • c. 1595–1596, William Shakespeare, “Loues Labour’s Lost”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene ii]:
      You find not the apostrophas, and so miss the accent:
      let me supervise the canzonet. Here are only numbers ratified;
      but, for the elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of poesy,
    • 1991 December 2, “At the Saudi-Kuwaiti Border”, in ABC Nightline:
      Night has now passed in the Saudi desert and as we hear from Nightline correspondent Forrest Sawyer, the normal cadence of life at the front is about to change.
  3. The measure or beat of movement.
    • 1993, Ken Schultz, “Terror of the deep”, in Field and Stream, volume 98, number 5, page 102:
      Getting into a good jigging rhythm means making short quick jerks in a regular cadence that might average about one jerk every 1.5 to 2 seconds.
  4. The general inflection or modulation of the voice, or of any sound.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 2”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Blustering winds, which all night long / Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull / Seafaring men o'erwatched.
    • 1815 February 24, [Walter Scott], Guy Mannering; [], volume (please specify |volume=I, II, or III), Edinburgh: [] James Ballantyne and Co. for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, []; and Archibald Constable and Co., [], OCLC 742335644:
      The accents [] were in passion's tenderest cadence.
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      Then away at last they sped to the house or bedside of some elderly and worthy person, and Pym sat fascinated to see how swiftly Rick trimmed his manner to suit theirs, how naturally he slipped into the cadences and vernacular that put them most at ease, and how the love of God came into his good face when he talked about Liberalism and Masonry and his dear dead father, God rest him, and a firstclass rate of return, ten percent guaranteed plus profits for as long as you're spared.
    • 1991 December 30, David Holmstrom, “Raimey: A Breath of Fresh Ayah”, in Christian Science Monitor:
      The cadence of Raimey's voice is pure Down-Easter Maine
  5. (music) A progression of at least two chords which conclude a piece of music, section or musical phrases within it. Sometimes referred to analogously as musical punctuation.
  6. (music) A cadenza, or closing embellishment; a pause before the end of a strain, which the performer may fill with a flight of fancy.
  7. (speech) A fall in inflection of a speaker’s voice, such as at the end of a sentence.
  8. (dance) A dance move which ends a phrase.
    The cadence in a galliard step refers to the final leap in a cinquepace sequence.
  9. (fencing) The rhythm and sequence of a series of actions.
  10. (running) The number of steps per minute.
  11. (cycling) The number of revolutions per minute of the cranks or pedals of a bicycle.
  12. (military) A chant that is sung by military personnel while running or marching; a jody call.
  13. (heraldry) cadency
  14. (horse-riding) Harmony and proportion of movement, as in a well-managed horse.
  15. (horseracing) The number of strides per second of a racehorse, measured when the same foot/hoof strikes the ground
  16. (software engineering) The frequency of regular product releases.
    • 2010 12, Dean Leffingwell, Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise, Addison-Wesley, →ISBN, page 317:
      In this third case, releasing more frequently, the PSI cadence becomes a planning cadence, rather than a release cadence.
    • 2012, Scott Ambler; Mark Lines, Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practitioner's Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise, IBM Press, page 227:
      We recommend aiming for a release cadence of no more than six months, with a goal of getting it down to three months or shorter.
    • 2016 9, Jaokim Verona; Michael Duffy; Paul Swartout, Learning DevOps: Continuously Develop Better Software, Packt Publishing, →ISBN, page 47:
      This happens when the installation cadence in production is slower than the release cadence of the development teams.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


cadence (third-person singular simple present cadences, present participle cadencing, simple past and past participle cadenced)

  1. To give a cadence to.
    • 1897, Don Carlos Buell, “Why the Confederacy Failed”, in The Century, volume 53:
      there was besides, in an already dominating and growing element, a motive that was stronger and more enduring than enthusiasm —an implacable antagonism which acted side by side with the cause of the Union as a perpetual impelling force against the social conditions of the South, controlling the counsels of the government, and cadencing the march of its armies to the chorus:
          John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave,
          But his soul is marching on!
    • 1910, Publication: Illinois State Historical Society, Illinois State Historical Library, number 14, page 182:
      In this march to the City of the Dead,'" scores upon scores of the best musical organizations of the nation were in line, whose funeral dirges cadenced the great wail of a bereft people.
    • 1990, Lewis Lockwood; Edward H. Roesner, (Please provide the book title or journal name), page 120:
      Example 10a gives a melody for one endecasyllabic line of verse; there are various ways of utilizing it, including Rore's choice of cadencing the first line on the third scale degree, for a two-line segment of an ottava stanza.
  2. To give structure to.
    • 1966, Joseph Leon Blau, Modern varieties of Judaism, page 158:
      It was the Exile, however, which cadenced the rhythm of Jewish existence
    • 2000, David C. Hammack, Making the Nonprofit Sector in the United States, page 256:
      They are neither mentioned specifically in the Constitution, nor in the Federalist Papers that cadenced the nationalist debates.
    • 2004, Andrew Ayers, The architecture of Paris: an architectural guide, page 38:
      ... an idea taken up by Percier and Fontaine, who also supplied the Corinthian order and transverse arcades cadencing the gallery's length today



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle French cadence, borrowed from Italian cadenza. Doublet of chance.


cadence f (plural cadences)

  1. cadence
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. inflection of cadencer:
    1. first/third-person singular present indicative/subjunctive
    2. second-person singular imperative

Further reading[edit]