Definition of temperament in English:



  • 1A person's or animal's nature, especially as it permanently affects their behaviour.

    ‘she had an artistic temperament’
    • ‘Campers' temperaments vary, from easy to difficult, persistent to inattentive, outgoing to withdrawn.’
    • ‘It is shaped by our own temperaments and personalities that incline us to behave in certain ways, which, in turn, shape how others react to us.’
    • ‘In addition, staff personalities and temperaments could have impacted parental knowledge gain.’
    • ‘The means toward attaining those goals, however, are as varied as our political views, socioeconomic background and individual temperaments.’
    • ‘Not all temperaments suit a collegial environment: not all people are able to attend a course.’
    • ‘Back in the days of the four humors, people had no problem believing that temperaments emerged from the balance, or imbalance, of chemicals in the body.’
    • ‘With so many artistic temperaments involved, it was surprising that the festivals remained so free of cultural clashes.’
    • ‘She wrote at length on the four humours and on the temperaments of people according to the phase of the Moon in which they were conceived.’
    • ‘They must be able to adapt to the different artistic requirements and temperaments of classical, jazz and pop musicians.’
    • ‘His design skills and my publishing experience helped balance our individual roles and temperaments.’
    • ‘Malls have temperaments and personalities and strange tribal auras; when you enter some malls you get the feeling right away that this is not your place.’
    • ‘In Hinduism you have many deities with various temperaments and nature, so you have the luxury of choosing and bonding with the deity which suits your nature.’
    • ‘But this is a temperament election, and neither of these people have temperaments that are frightening, and I think that's the key.’
    • ‘Therapy included a discussion of complementary styles and temperaments.’
    • ‘Some of these methods are still used today, particularly the concepts of balancing out the four elements, nine temperaments and four humours that make up the human body.’
    • ‘It sorts people into four temperaments: idealists, rationals, artisans, and guardians.’
    • ‘One's diet for example, can affect the body's temperaments and thus influence ones's intellectual moral character.’
    • ‘Healthy human contact and a spacious, more natural living environment improves their temperaments tremendously.’
    • ‘It's learning, for example, to live in community with people of very different temperaments and talents and outlooks and personalities.’
    • ‘Planetary characteristics are defined by these humoural temperaments where, as in nature, warmth and moisture promote health and vitality whilst cold and dryness are conducive to decay.’
    disposition, nature, character, personality, make-up, constitution, complexion, temper, mind, spirit, stamp, mettle, mould
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    1. 1.1mass noun The tendency to behave angrily or emotionally.
      ‘he had begun to show signs of temperament’
      • ‘But his volatile temperament sometimes landed him in serious trouble with the authorities.’
      • ‘Actually, it is not the Englishman's performances that will be closely examined, but signs that he is managing to keep his suspect temperament in check.’
      • ‘Women with the aspect often have an excessively emotional temperament.’
      • ‘At what age do signs of temperament emerge?’
      • ‘His emotional and dramatic temperament is well suited to the imaginative and affective dimensions of Ignatian prayer.’
      • ‘All other fairies were nice, but I would like to see more temperament in every character.’
      • ‘He then embarked upon a legal career which was characterised by often brilliant legal exposition, and mercurial temperament.’
      • ‘Autocratic rages and selfish bursts of temperament seem not to have been in his repertoire.’
      • ‘"Ross showed signs of temperament early on," reports John.’
      volatility, excitability, emotionalism, mercurialness, capriciousness, hot-headedness, quick-temperedness, hot-temperedness, irritability, impatience, petulance
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  • 2mass noun The adjustment of intervals in tuning a piano or other musical instrument so as to fit the scale for use in different keys; in equal temperament, the octave consists of twelve equal semitones.

    ‘this temperament became standard tuning for all the new organs’
    • ‘In this equal temperament system of tuning, the frequencies of notes on a keyboard are related by a fairly simple mathematical relationship involving the number of keys (half-steps) between the notes.’
    • ‘The whole topic of temperament and tuning is sensibly presented, and there are even hints on the purchase and care of instruments.’
    • ‘The middle octave on the piano is shown as a standard example of equal temperament.’


Late Middle English: from Latin temperamentum ‘correct mixture’, from temperare ‘mingle’. In early use the word was synonymous with the noun temper.