Definition of cadence in English:



  • 1A modulation or inflection of the voice.

    ‘the measured cadences that he employed in the Senate’
    • ‘The timbre and cadence of his drawling voice startle at first and the listener becomes absorbed by his speech rhythms, pauses, and inflections.’
    • ‘He asks short questions but gives long answers, and there's something vaguely patrician about the cadence of his speech.’
    • ‘We all spoke German, too, at the table - except when talking to the waitress, when we settled into sibilant cadences and sharp vowels.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Its syllables roll out with a fine cadence, its vowels and consonants harmonize happily.’
    • ‘They cluster in the short midday shadows of the coconut grove, where the steamy air softens even the icy cadences of their accents.’
    • ‘His voice lacks the distinctive cadence for which he would become known, but there's no denying the presence he brings to the part.’
    • ‘But mostly, the words were solemn, the cadences measured.’
    • ‘Her voice was the same, but the cadence and inflection of speech was entirely Karen's.’
    • ‘Talking normally, even to a very young child, helped it to gradually gain understanding of the cadence of normal speech.’
    • ‘My voice cadence changed, my speech began to race, and I was virtually incomprehensible to everyone around me.’
    • ‘He also should constantly be developing an ear for the cadence and inflection of the languages.’
    • ‘She was now familiar with his mannerisms such as the way he drawled in that deep voice, the cadence of his speech.’
    • ‘But read it aloud and you start to hear the music, the cadences of Scottish speech.’
    • ‘Although her English has improved over the years, she still speaks in Spanish cadences, and her consonants are so soft that every word sounds whispered.’
    • ‘I liked the cadence of speech - the compelling tone.’
    • ‘In the typically measured cadences of a diplomat, he hailed the arrest as a ‘major step’.’
    • ‘He found actors whose faces, most of them, boast Semitic heritage; whose voices hold the raspy, urgent cadences of Brooklyn, Appalachia and other frontier outposts of working-class America.’
    • ‘Samoan oratory is delivered in a cadence and clarity of voice that is clear and ringing.’
    • ‘There's something about the guitars and the cadences of the voice that evoke the mystery and sadness of the ocean.’
    rhythm, tempo, metre, measure, rise and fall, beat, pulse, rhythmical flow, rhythmical pattern, swing, lilt, cadency
    intonation, modulation, inflection, speech pattern
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A rhythmical effect in written text.
      ‘the dry cadences of the essay’
      • ‘The poems acknowledge semi-articulate intimacies, their interrupted cadence, a shrewd tenderness, a tang.’
      • ‘Leaving the reading, the technically sound aspects of her poetry - including a penchant for patient cadences and lengthy stanzas reminiscent of prose - were not the resounding aspects of the reading.’
      • ‘Carl is also very sensitive to the syllabic pulse of a poem, and writes in a subtle music that correlates meaning with cadence.’
      • ‘The author constructs a narrative that closely resembles poetry in its cadence, verse structure and imagery.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Whenever I read that text, his cadences, his eloquence and his zeal come readily to mind.’
      • ‘Page was familiar with verse - especially the cadence and rhythm of the nursery rhyme - and with the idea of creating one's own books.’
      • ‘The emerging, densely evocative cadences easily eschew the tangible elements of the novel like story or plot in which events move in some kind of linear progression towards a climax.’
      • ‘The text is laced with an ironic cadence of the oral tradition.’
      • ‘Its cadences follow the rhythms of machines, and pull the reader into its moments of repetition, into its pauses.’
      • ‘Supplication, of course, also carries a religious overtone; his plea to Poetry may be secular in name, but it has the cadence of a prayer.’
      • ‘The authors write in a clear, straightforward style, but the strength of their books lies with pacey dialogue that echoes cadences with which children will be familiar from TV and film.’
      • ‘The themes live through a language buzzing with resonance and cadence, a hallucinatory, burlesque fusion that demands to be read aloud.’
      • ‘Where they strove manfully for their effects, he wrote poems whose cadence leads one to believe that they had just floated out.’
      • ‘The permissions I give and am given by the interruptions of my thought in the corner of my room contrive my cadences, showing the line breaks to the onrush of my words.’
      • ‘Similarly, in our writing, cadences are stress points, moments where syntax and substance team up to convey special meaning.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He taught us that the Bible will have its authoritative, noncoercive way with us if we but attend with educated alertness to the cadences and sounds of the text in all its detail.’
      • ‘It may seem that way, but their dialogue is not written for a particular cadence.’
      • ‘Chapter 8 is developed in prose that is remarkable for its oracular cadence, one that temporarily arrests the flow of the narrative.’
    2. 1.2A fall in pitch of the voice at the end of a phrase or sentence.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘‘Of course, you know, you lose a little square footage in commercial space,’ the man assured me with a sort of trailing off cadence.’
    3. 1.3[mass noun]Rhythm.
      ‘the thumping cadence of the engines’
      • ‘He might have missed it, for, even beneath the powerful eye of the scope, steadily beating in slow cadence, it was no larger than a speck.’
      • ‘It's common for offensive tackles to time the quarterback's cadence with the snap so they quickly can get into their protection stances.’
      • ‘While some ministers complained that most employees tried to do as little work as possible, others stressed that the type and cadence of industrial work made it much less interesting and intrinsically meaningful.’
      • ‘The gear should allow you to hit 150 rpm (bike computers that measure cadence can help).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘During the test, the rider can change gear, and vary their cadence to suit the effort required.’
      • ‘As the wind kicked up, the plates and lids began rattling against the stone, beating out a mournful, otherworldly cadence.’
      • ‘He rode, his legs firing out the familiar high cadence.’
      • ‘They have cadence and a rhythm together, moving together easily, even in tight spaces.’
      • ‘Her heart beat hard within her chest cavity; each beat in syncopation with the drummers' cadence.’
      • ‘After a training ride, the group analyzes his power output, average speed, distance, heart rate, cadence, and time, then adjusts the champ's workouts accordingly.’
      • ‘She walks the earth with a heavy confidence, an irrepressible swagger and cadence, due to those nighttime reflections.’
      • ‘Gotta head to work with my beloved bike. I have adjusted my saddle and it's about 1.5CM higher than before, it is feeling good, the current position seems to facilitate better cadence.’
      • ‘‘When she came past me she was definitely pedalling a much bigger gear with a much slower cadence,’ she said.’
      • ‘‘The most efficient cadence is between 90 and 110 RPMs,’ she says.’
      • ‘Self-carriage, cadence, rhythm, and hock engagement at all three gaits with the same speed and frame were the standards on which to judge.’
      • ‘To his credit, the director establishes a consistent, measured cadence early and sticks to it, while eschewing the most obvious sentimental tricks.’
      • ‘At that point, Timmy got up and started clapping in a slow rhythmic cadence.’
      • ‘Gait characteristics of step length, cadence, stride width, toe out angle were measured at both usual and maximal walking speed on a 6-meter course.’
      • ‘The shooting hand grips it at the balance point and the arm swings in natural cadence.’
  • 2A sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase.

    ‘the final cadences of the Prelude’
    • ‘The full force of the chromatic harmony was thrilling, as in such details as the cellos' dissonant flattened 6th just before the final cadence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By phrase two these pitches have become the descending third G-E, and the later phrases of section one also have thirds at their cadences, whether major or minor.’
    • ‘Imitation, sequences, alberti bass and the typical V-I final cadence make this piece a classic.’


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