1. a particular state of mind or feelings.
  2. habit of mind, especially with respect to irritability or patience, outbursts of anger, or the like; disposition: an even temper.
  3. heat of mind or passion, shown in outbursts of anger, resentment, etc.
  4. calm disposition or state of mind: to be out of temper.
  5. a substance added to something to modify its properties or qualities.
  6. Metallurgy.
    1. the degree of hardness and strength imparted to a metal, as by quenching, heat treatment, or cold working.
    2. the percentage of carbon in tool steel.
    3. the operation of tempering.
  7. Archaic. a middle course; compromise.
  8. Obsolete. the constitution or character of a substance.

verb (used with object)

  1. to moderate or mitigate: to temper justice with mercy.
  2. to soften or tone down.
  3. to bring to a proper, suitable, or desirable state by or as by blending or admixture.
  4. to moisten, mix, and work up into proper consistency, as clay or mortar.
  5. Metallurgy. to impart strength or toughness to (steel or cast iron) by heating and cooling.
  6. to produce internal stresses in (glass) by sudden cooling from low red heat; toughen.
  7. to tune (a keyboard instrument, as a piano, organ, or harpsichord) so as to make the tones available in different keys or tonalities.
  8. to modify (color) by mixing with a medium.
  9. Archaic. to combine or blend in due proportions.
  10. Archaic. to pacify.

verb (used without object)

  1. to be or become tempered.


  1. a frame of mind; mood or humoura good temper
  2. a sudden outburst of anger; tantrum
  3. a tendency to exhibit uncontrolled anger; irritability
  4. a mental condition of moderation and calm (esp in the phrases keep one’s temper, lose one’s temper, out of temper)
  5. the degree of hardness, elasticity, or a similar property of a metal or metal object

verb (tr)

  1. to make more temperate, acceptable, or suitable by adding something else; moderatehe tempered his criticism with kindly sympathy
  2. to strengthen or toughen (a metal or metal article) by heat treatment, as by heating and quenching
  3. music
    1. to adjust the frequency differences between the notes of a scale on (a keyboard instrument) in order to allow modulation into other keys
    2. to make such an adjustment to the pitches of notes in (a scale)
  4. a rare word for adapt
  5. an archaic word for mix

n.late 14c., “due proportion of elements or qualities,” from temper (v.). The sense of “characteristic state of mind” is first recorded 1590s; that of “calm state of mind” in c.1600; and that of “angry state of mind” (for bad temper) in 1828. Meaning “degree of hardness and resiliency in steel” is from late 15c. v.late Old English temprian “to bring to a proper or suitable state, to modify some excessive quality, to restrain within due limits,” from Latin temperare “to mix correctly, moderate, regulate, blend,” usually described as from tempus “time, season” (see temporal), with a sense of “proper time or season,” but the sense history is obscure. Meaning “to make (steel) hard and elastic” is from late 14c. Sense of “to tune the pitch of a musical instrument” is recorded from c.1300. Related: Tempered; tempering. n.

  1. A state of mind or emotions; mood.
  2. A tendency to become easily angry or irritable.
  3. An outburst of rage.

see hold one’s temper; lose one’s temper.

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