Definition of temper in English:



  • 1[in singular] A person's state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm.

    ‘he rushed out in a very bad temper’
    • ‘Her temper was sweet and calm, much like a sheep's, until she had a blade in her hand, and then she was as quick and merciless as a she-wolf.’
    • ‘You can't get out of Heathrow without falling immediately into a bad temper.’
    • ‘Gabe stalked over to the weapons rack and pulled down two wooden staves, in a bad temper because his preferred sword hadn't been chosen.’
    • ‘After of course spending the rest of lunch period torturing my stupid relative, I stalked out of the cafeteria in a bad temper.’
    • ‘So he decided to cancel the dish, and slunk off to his dormitory down the road in a bad temper.’
    • ‘His temper had not calmed from his earlier encounter with the Johnson twins.’
    • ‘She carefully spoke to the horse calming it's raging temper.’
    • ‘Don't be put off by the first track where someone in a bad temper attacks a keyboard for a minute and a half.’
    • ‘That would certainly put it in a bad temper and might explain why it was always so scary.’
    • ‘That morning Francis awoke in rather a bad temper.’
    • ‘He idly wondered which one of them was in the bad temper.’
    • ‘Reginald was not in when she returned his call later that evening, and Loretta went to bed in a bad temper.’
    • ‘The bad temper of earlier was gone and his eyes were shining with anticipation.’
    • ‘As I said he was in a bad temper most of the time, frustrated to the point of tears by his incapacity.’
    • ‘I said and got up, stalking off to my room in a frightful temper.’
    temperament, disposition, nature, character, personality, make-up, constitution, mind, spirit, stamp, mettle, mould
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    1. 1.1A tendency to become angry easily.
      ‘I know my temper gets the better of me at times’
      • ‘I have a flaming temper and have a tendency to rebound people's accusations back on them, especially if I'm not feeling good.’
      • ‘Don't worry, my father isn't abusive, he just has a bad temper.’
      • ‘They're known for having a nasty temper and a love of drinking.’
      • ‘He did have a bad temper sometimes, but it usually wasn't a problem.’
      • ‘Classmates said that he had a terrible temper that easily flared, and that he clung to people far too easily and became jealous and angry.’
      • ‘My temper was at snapping point by the end of the lesson.’
      • ‘Emerald was a cunning, quick, but brutal girl with a temper as bad as tempers come.’
      • ‘The only problem was, unlike my mother, my father had a temper he could lose easily.’
      • ‘He had to overcome a violent temper and a tendency to excessive self-criticism.’
      • ‘The coach is a modest, quiet man; Olga has a temper, is easily hurt and wants to do everything her own way.’
      • ‘His temper was sparked easily, but he also had patience and civility like none other.’
      • ‘Normally, he was quite calm and quiet, but he had a quick temper that subsided as easily as it came.’
      • ‘Your temper is as bad as mine. You've shed blood enough in your time, and need not rail at me.’
      • ‘But don't get the wrong idea, he doesn't have a bad temper with Sherry or his kids.’
      • ‘I mean, sure, I have a bad temper, but I'm so totally different from him.’
      • ‘I don't think I have a bad temper, but I can get pretty agitated when watching sports that I like, such as football or boxing!’
      • ‘He also had a fiery temper and loved a good argument.’
      • ‘She had a fiery temper and was sometimes worse than Elaine.’
      • ‘He had a bad temper, and would constantly threaten me and the baby.’
      • ‘Despite his mean temper and violent tendencies, she did not draw back from him, and Heathcliff found this delicious.’
      anger, fury, rage, annoyance, vexation, crossness, irascibility, irritation, irritability, ill humour, ill temper, dyspepsia, spleen, pique, petulance, peevishness, pettishness, testiness, tetchiness, snappishness, crabbiness, resentment, surliness, churlishness
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    2. 1.2An angry state of mind.
      ‘Drew had walked out in a temper’
      [mass noun] ‘I only said it in a fit of temper’
      • ‘Realising that he has been fooled, Cohen leaves in a temper.’
      • ‘I have a tendency toward being a bit of a nag to Chris, and I guess I put him in a temper.’
      • ‘Molly stamps her foot in a temper.’
      • ‘To her surprise, he didn't throw her out in a fit of temper.’
      • ‘She seemed to inflate, her nostrils flaring in a temper.’
      • ‘He still wanted to survive the ceremony, and that would be harder if Ishella was in a temper.’
      • ‘I expect that over the years, she has sought to accommodate her daughter's wishes rather than confront her whenever she has been in a temper.’
      • ‘Who knows what I might do tomorrow in a fit of temper or in a fit of rage.’
      • ‘Damon, on the other hand, saw that I was in a temper, and got as far away from me as he could.’
      • ‘Mark frowned; he didn't expect the word to get around that quickly, but then, he never counted on Mary-Ellen in a temper.’
      • ‘The führer pushed the girl violently to the ground in a temper.’
      • ‘I watched her as she walked away from me, obviously in a temper from that confrontation a few minutes ago.’
      • ‘Brigid refused and, in a fit of temper, one of her brothers hit her in the face.’
      • ‘Sometimes it is not easy or possible to walk away, especially when they are in the middle of a fit of temper.’
      • ‘He was getting extremely angry and damaged the second window in a fit of temper.’
      • ‘The man struck me in a temper, so hard I bounced off the courtyard wall.’
      • ‘He might ruin any number of valuable things in a temper!’
      • ‘Still in a fit of temper, she grabbed the remote from him and turned the TV on.’
      • ‘He tends to karate kick the office partition when he's in a temper.’
      • ‘Nelly, in a temper, grabbed the bird and lashed it from her shoulder.’
      fit of rage, rage, fury, fit of bad temper, fit of ill temper, bad temper, tantrum, passion, paroxysm
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  • 2[mass noun] The degree of hardness and elasticity in steel or other metal.

    ‘the blade rapidly heats up and the metal loses its temper’
    • ‘In this connection it is well known that molybdenum additions to Ni-Cr steels can eliminate temper embrittlement.’
    • ‘The resistance to atmospheric corrosion is improved and copper steels can be temper hardened.’
    • ‘Alloys in the T4 temper are susceptible to room-temperature aging.’


  • 1Improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it.

    ‘the way a smith would temper a sword’
    ‘tempered steel pins’
    • ‘These alloy steels are ordinarily quench-hardened and tempered to the level of strength desired for the application.’
    • ‘Nearly always forged and tempered, stainless steel blades hold an edge well.’
    • ‘All hardenable steels must be hardened and tempered before being nitrided.’
    • ‘Temper embrittlement is quite common in slowly heavy solutions of steels tempered in the range from 400 to 560°C.’
    • ‘Quench-hardened alloys normally are tempered to improve toughness and ductility and reduce hardness in a manner similar to that for alloy steels.’
    • ‘The steel is then quenched to the martensitic state and tempered at an appropriate temperature.’
    • ‘As the quenched iron is tempered, its hardness decreases, whereas it usually gains in strength and toughness.’
    • ‘Quenched and tempered structural steels are primarily available in the form of plate or bar products.’
    • ‘Virtually all steels must be quenched and tempered for core properties before being nitrided or stress relieved for distortion control.’
    • ‘They only had only sandstone and chalk in the area, but they imported metals to temper, smelt, and forge.’
    • ‘It decreases hardenability but sustains hardness during tempering.’
    • ‘Blackened steel, tempered into armour, was what they wore.’
    • ‘One book might teach you how to temper steel, another how to cut a thread, a third how to weld.’
    • ‘He claims to have adopted a new mode of tempering the steel, producing an edge of greater durability than any previously made.’
    • ‘Next, the steel was tempered by a special controlled heat treatment that gave it ‘life’ or spring.’
    • ‘Castings should be tempered immediately after quenching to relieve quenching stresses.’
    • ‘When cast steels are quenched and tempered, the range of strength and of toughness is broadened.’
    • ‘Alloying elements may have different effects on steel after tempering at the steel proneness to temper embrittlement.’
    • ‘Within a couple of years he found himself running a part-time business making custom knives in the purest form - from steel he forged and tempered himself.’
    1. 1.1Improve the consistency or resiliency of (a substance) by heating it or adding particular substances to it.
      ‘hardboard tempered with oil or resin is more durable’
      • ‘All the replacement glass will be tempered glass, he said.’
      • ‘This process includes tempering, which consists of repeatedly heating the chocolate to a specific temperature and then cooling it down.’
      • ‘The side glass, which is tempered glass, shatters into thousands of pellets when it is struck with an object.’
      • ‘Some of these components can be tempered by residual heating.’
      • ‘The blanks are made of relatively soft glass and must be tempered, either by chemicals or heat, to strengthen them before inserting into the frame.’
      harden, strengthen, toughen, fortify
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  • 2Act as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something)

    ‘their idealism is tempered with realism’
    • ‘In the end, the film's moderately optimistic stance is tempered with a standard commentary on war and the nature of human aggression.’
    • ‘Coconut milk tempers the spices of the green curry fish, so it works with the cherry, smoky plum, and other flavors in the Pinot Noir.’
    • ‘The heat is tempered by sea breezes on the coast.’
    • ‘Fortunately, he tempers that seriousness with the one-man show's greatest asset - humour - and shows that the best way to get through life is to learn to laugh at yourself.’
    • ‘The weather was just right: warm sunshine tempered by a gentle sea breeze.’
    • ‘Young keeps a level tone throughout, tempering the tale of depredation with a dry wit.’
    • ‘Once the egg mixture has been tempered with the garlic broth, you cut up an inch off of a baguette, letting the bread rise to the top of the bowl.’
    • ‘Had he tempered his love of Canadian hockey with some realism and advocated for some change, who knows what his impact could have been?’
    • ‘In contrast, Laura's dish was a robust raid on the taste buds, the rich venison - cut into wafer thin slices - slightly tempered by the sweet, autumnal flavour of the warm pear relish.’
    • ‘The young shoots make a pleasant vegetable, whose acidity can be tempered by the addition of a little sugar in the cooking.’
    • ‘But let's temper expectancy with caution, knowing that a team is only as good, or indeed as bad, as its last outing.’
    • ‘Like most expats, however, he tempers his fascination with some critical observations.’
    • ‘Always remember, however, that sea breezes will temper the heat and might cool things considerably.’
    • ‘Their peacefulness is tempered with readiness and realism.’
    • ‘The island's climate is semi-tropical; yearlong rainfall keeps it green; heat and humidity are tempered by soft breezes.’
    • ‘It's lush and exotically ripe, yet still freshly laced with red fruit aromas and flavour, tempered by balmy spice and a softly seductive texture.’
    • ‘One difference, however, is the note of realism and levity that tempers every show.’
    • ‘Expectation should be tempered by a strong dose of reality.’
    • ‘The heat of the peppers is tempered by the peanuts, the sweetness of the honey balanced by the soy sauce and the citrusy tang of the ginger complemented by the garlic.’
    • ‘What's more, protein tempers blood sugar fluctuations, preventing the spikes and crashes that can leave you hungry and drained.’
    moderate, modify, modulate
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  • 3Tune (a piano or other instrument) so as to adjust the note intervals correctly.

    • ‘The technician is trained on tempering the piano for tuning.’
    • ‘In tempering the piano, we narrow the fifths and widen the fourths.’


  • keep (or lose) one's temper

    • Retain (or fail to retain) composure when angry.

      ‘it took all her patience to keep her temper’
      • ‘Jennifer was getting angry at him, but she kept her temper in check.’
      • ‘When teachers and parents inflict bodily punishment on children to discipline them, that means those adults themselves do not possess patience - they lose their temper.’
      • ‘I always got angry easily and would lose my temper like that.’
      • ‘He went on: ‘For some reason we shall never know why you lost your temper.’’
      • ‘I know that both times I was wrong for blowing up and losing my temper, but it was extremely hard not to.’
      • ‘Charles exploded, losing his temper and nearly shouting at his shocked son.’
      • ‘She is frightened at first, and then becomes angry, soon losing her temper.’
      • ‘‘I want to be left alone. ‘Leon was starting to get angry, but he had to keep his temper in check.’’
      • ‘General Powell lost his temper and fired the gun into the air.’
      • ‘You just lost your temper with me, didn't you?’
      become very angry, fly into a rage, explode, blow up, erupt, lose control, go berserk, breathe fire, begin to rant and rave, flare up, boil over
      go mad, go crazy, go wild, go bananas, have a fit, see red, fly off the handle, blow one's top, blow a fuse, blow a gasket, do one's nut, hit the roof, go through the roof, go up the wall, go off the deep end, lose one's cool, go ape, flip, flip one's lid, lose one's rag, lose it, freak out, be fit to be tied, be foaming at the mouth, burst a blood vessel, get one's dander up, go non-linear
      go spare, go crackers, throw a wobbly, get one's knickers in a twist
      flip one's wig
      go crook
      go apeshit
      composure, equanimity, self-control, self-possession, sangfroid, coolness, calm, calmness, tranquillity, good humour
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  • out of temper

    • In an irritable mood.

      ‘on waking each day she had been out of temper’
      • ‘It was not that he was out of temper with Simon.’
      • ‘A lifelong friend has never known him to be out of temper or speak ill words of others.’
      • ‘He was out of temper; and he looked up with an angry scowl.’


Old English temprian ‘bring something into the required condition by mixing it with something else’, from Latin temperare mingle, restrain. Sense development was probably influenced by Old French temprer to temper, moderate. The noun originally denoted a proportionate mixture of elements or qualities, also the combination of the four bodily humours, believed in medieval times to be the basis of temperament, hence temper ( late Middle English). Compare with temperament.