Definition of crescendo in English:



  • 1Music
    A gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music.

    ‘each time the key changes, there is a gradual crescendo’
    • ‘The second is a three-part lullaby and the finale a moto perpetuo in gradual crescendo.’
    • ‘Instead, it had more of a gradual crescendo, a spirit to it that demanded a faster movement.’
    • ‘The music rose in a whirling crescendo as the tempo got faster.’
    • ‘Each piece has multiple tension points and crescendos to keep your ear engaged for a hard listen, but it honestly works best as background music.’
    • ‘As Sora walked further down the hall, the redhead's sensitive ears picked up a gradual crescendo of a beautifully played piano.’
    1. 1.1 A passage of music marked or performed with a crescendo.
      • ‘The final crescendo was stunningly articulated!’
      • ‘The musical phraseology was convincing, and the crescendos and decrescendos were accurately measured and performed.’
      • ‘As crescendo after crescendo uplifts the piece, the group becomes more and more abrasive and unforgiving.’
      • ‘I was dissatisfied with my execution of the crescendos and decrescendos in the ‘A Section’ of the work's scherzo movement.’
    2. 1.2 The loudest point reached in a gradually increasing sound.
      ‘the port engine revs rose to a crescendo’
      • ‘The music reaches a crescendo, and their eyes meet.’
      • ‘She began cursing with bitter vehemence and knocked the remaining pots around to a crescendo of reverberating noise.’
      • ‘As the engine races to a crescendo, we head off along what appears to be a new-mown field, then just as it dawns on me that this is the airstrip, we are airborne.’
      • ‘The applause rose to a crescendo when four white doves were freed and flew into the night sky.’
      • ‘The atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic, and with the roof closed, and the sound reaching a crescendo, it made the hairs on my neck stand up.’
      • ‘The piano music rose to a crescendo, the pianist pounding on the keys so loudly Jane covered her ears.’
      • ‘Each song starts slowly then builds up to a crescendo.’
      • ‘They had scrambled almost back to the road as the band's cacophony rose to a crescendo.’
      • ‘A great babble of voices all rose to a crescendo of sound that could only be the prelude to panic.’
      • ‘The music hit a crescendo as the dancers beneath the brightly lit lanterns increased the momentum of the dance.’
      • ‘Excited chattering rose to a crescendo in the auditorium as the sound of the fast-moving convoy fell upon the ears of those at the back of the crowd.’
      • ‘It began as an almost pleasant noise, but then grew to a crescendo.’
      • ‘The shouting grew louder and to a crescendo as a door opened.’
      • ‘Comedy sound effects come to a crescendo as the abused machine finally collapses in a heap of scrap metal.’
      • ‘Forty male voices sang in spell-binding chorus, softening at moments and then rising, fortified, to a crescendo.’
      • ‘Cicadas start to shrill, building to a crescendo that threatens to rupture eardrums.’
      • ‘Soon the wind rose to a crescendo as it tore through trees and over roof tops.’
      • ‘The two embraced as the applause grew to a crescendo.’
      • ‘It breaks and builds to a crescendo, the classic flute section floating over the top.’
      • ‘The background music swells to a crescendo of heavenly orchestration in a moment intended to make audiences feel proud.’
  • 2A progressive increase in intensity.

    ‘a crescendo of misery’
    • ‘I think both clubs felt it worked very well but that should not build into a crescendo of rumours that the rugby club are moving in with us.’
    • ‘It was a fitting crescendo to a remarkable exhibition.’
    • ‘That crescendo builds up, you are on your own and think you have to do something.’
    • ‘Although many speakers struck bland notes individually, together these became a crescendo of shared concern.’
    • ‘They believe that if you try hard enough there's a steady crescendo of improvement and your fate is in your own hands.’
    • ‘His sluggish response kicked off a crescendo of criticism, prompting calls for him to resign from within his own coalition.’
    • ‘What followed was a rising crescendo in which he saw glorious opportunities for the future, the future in particular of left-of-centre politics.’
    1. 2.1 The most intense point reached.
      ‘the hysteria reached a crescendo around the spring festival’
      • ‘They talk about how you build up your script to a crescendo, how you develop subplots, and all sorts of other mechanical rules.’
      • ‘But the excitement reached a crescendo when the dance floor was thrown open.’
      • ‘Anti-immigrant propaganda has reached a crescendo over the past month, as both parties compete to prove they are harsher on immigration.’
      • ‘The sandstorm hit us that day and built to a crescendo during the next day.’
      • ‘These ideas come to a crescendo in the book's final collection of essays.’
      • ‘The reasons did come to a crescendo in the end and referred to discretion.’
      • ‘As the vocal chords stretched, the cheering reached a crescendo.’
      • ‘As minutes ticked by, excitement reached a crescendo.’
      • ‘The storm reached a crescendo as they crossed the stream, Plum Run.’
      • ‘The careful selection and placement of each noise and voice ensures that as each amplifies the other, they remain distinct, and build to a crescendo of emotion.’
      • ‘The sudden ending, while building up to a crescendo, leaves you thinking, ‘What if?’’
      • ‘In early April, this propaganda campaign reached a crescendo.’
      • ‘His eyes widened as the pain reached a crescendo.’
      • ‘Occasionally, when he's reaching the crescendo of his argument, he runs off to grab a placard and brandishes it to drive home his point.’
      • ‘This is bad news for a company which depends so highly on retail sales which should rise to a crescendo in the run-up to Christmas.’
      • ‘All this is happening all at the same time, and it's all working up to a crescendo where there is going to be a sudden shift.’
      • ‘This kind of criticism reached a crescendo in the summer of 1862.’
      • ‘It was during this time that the lobbying reached a crescendo, and it paid off.’
      • ‘After Augustine had become a bishop, the theme of man's absolute need for grace rose to a crescendo.’
      peak, pinnacle, height, high point, highest point, summit, top
      View synonyms

adverb & adjective

  • With a gradual increase in loudness.

    as adjective ‘a short crescendo kettledrum roll’
    • ‘Each goal is honoured with the crescendo beat of drums and the noise is increased by the cheers of the successful party.’
    • ‘Reversing the crescendo pattern used by so many instrumental bands, the song begins with booming drums and layers of distorted bass, high-end guitars, and uplifting piano.’


[no object]
  • Increase in loudness or intensity.

    ‘the reluctant cheers began to crescendo’
    • ‘As the music evolved, each harmonic would crescendo but no harmonic would crescendo any louder than another.’
    • ‘Murmuring broke out and crescendoed into pandemonium.’
    • ‘The drums boomed, the bass often got lost in the mix under dueling guitars, and the dueling guitars crescendoed.’
    • ‘The advisor started chuckling softly to himself, and it grew and crescendoed into the same maniacal laughter that was coming out of the priestess's mouth far away.’
    • ‘The drumming of his fingers matched the rain in a crescendoing concerto.’
    • ‘We waited a few seconds in silence, before we heard rhythmic footsteps crescendoing as a dim, short outline approached the door.’
    • ‘Soon, the faint pitter-patter crescendoed into the staccato of heavy drops falling on Heinrich's poncho.’
    • ‘Her voice started low, hardly audible, but slowly crescendoed as the temperature of the room dropped.’
    • ‘The horse's gait changed to a gallop, and the muffled rhythm of the hoof beats crescendoed until they were uncannily loud and hollow.’
    • ‘A chorus of male voices rose above the din, crescendoing, singing ‘Jezebel’ in ringing tones that deafened the room with awe.’
    • ‘My voice crescendoed into a yell slowly throughout my speech, bringing up memories of events that I'd overcome.’
    • ‘It crescendoed and tipped off at an intensely sharp note.’
    • ‘She heard voices crescendo until the words were finally understandable.’
    • ‘The song crescendoed, and they both closed their eyes.’
    • ‘His voice, at first, had been soft but soon crescendoed into a bellow.’
    • ‘When motorized sounds roared and heavy gunfire crescendoed, he ran, so I ran too.’
    • ‘More laughter from the audience, which crescendoed as Kelly began actually discussing the things, in terms of their visual history and morphology.’
    • ‘Jonas's voice crescendoed steadily with every word.’
    • ‘It's also there in the way he ends notes in the verses, crescendoing and pitching up and then choking them off suddenly, cutting the sound short.’
    • ‘This will be almost falsetto but will have enough heaviness to enable the singer to crescendo smoothly.’


Late 18th century: Italian, present participle of crescere ‘to increase’, from Latin crescere ‘grow’.