transitive verb tem·per \ˈtem-pər\

: to make (something) less severe or extreme

: to cause (something, such as steel or glass) to become hard or strong by heating it and cooling it

tem·peredtem·per·ing \-p(ə-)riŋ\

Full Definition of TEMPER

:  to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else :  moderate <temper justice with mercy>
a :  to exercise control over :  govern, restrain
b :  to cause to be well disposed :  mollify <tempered and reconciled them both — Richard Steele>
:  to bring to a suitable state by mixing in or adding a usually liquid ingredient: as
a :  to mix (clay) with water or a modifier (as grog) and knead to a uniform texture
b :  to mix oil with (colors) in making paint ready for use
a (1) :  to soften (as hardened steel or cast iron) by reheating at a lower temperature (2) :  to harden (as steel) by reheating and cooling in oil
b :  to anneal or toughen (glass) by a process of gradually heating and cooling
:  to make stronger and more resilient through hardship :  toughen <troops tempered in battle>
a :  to put in tune with something :  attune
b :  to adjust the pitch of (a note, chord, or instrument) to a temperament
tem·per·able \-p(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective
tem·per·er \-pər-ər\ noun

Origin of TEMPER

Middle English, from Old English & Anglo-French; Old English temprian & Anglo-French temprer, from Latin temperare to moderate, mix, temper; probably akin to Latin tempor-, tempus time
First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Handicraft Terms

biscuit, darn, tambour, wrought



: the tendency of someone to become angry

: a state of being angry

: calmness of mind

Full Definition of TEMPER

a archaic :  a suitable proportion or balance of qualities :  a middle state between extremes :  mean, medium <virtue is…a just temper between propensities — T. B. Macaulay>
b archaic :  character, quality <the temper of the land you design to sow — John Mortimer>
c :  characteristic tone :  trend <the temper of the times>
d :  high quality of mind or spirit :  courage
a :  the state of a substance with respect to certain desired qualities (as hardness, elasticity, or workability); especially :  the degree of hardness or resiliency given steel by tempering
b :  the feel and relative solidity of leather
a :  a characteristic cast of mind or state of feeling :  disposition
b :  calmness of mind :  composure
c :  state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion
d :  heat of mind or emotion :  proneness to anger :  passion <she has a real temper>
:  a substance (as a metal) added to or mixed with something else (as another metal) to modify the properties of the latter

First Known Use of TEMPER

14th century

Synonym Discussion of TEMPER

disposition, temperament, temper, character, personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group. disposition implies customary moods and attitude toward the life around one <a cheerful disposition>. temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one's specific physical and nervous organization <an artistic temperament>. temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations <a resilient temper>. character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents <strength of character>. personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person <a somber personality>.

Other Metals and Metallurgy Terms

assay, bloom, bullion, ductile, ingot, malleable, patina, plate, tensile
TEMPER Defined for Kids


noun tem·per \ˈtem-pər\

Definition of TEMPER for Kids

:  characteristic state of feeling <She has a very even temper.>
:  calmness of mind <I lost my temper.>
:  a tendency to become angry <Try to control your temper.>
:  the hardness or toughness of a substance (as metal)



Definition of TEMPER for Kids

:  to make less severe or extreme :  soften <Mountains temper the wind.>
:  to heat and cool a substance (as steel) until it is as hard, tough, or flexible as is wanted

Word Root of TEMPER

The Latin word temperāre, meaning to make mild, to control, or to soften, gives us the root temper. Words from the Latin temperāre have something to do with mildness or control. To temper is to soften or make something less strong or difficult. Someone temperamental has little control over her or his mood and reactions to people and events. Temperature, or the degree of hotness or coldness, tells whether something is mild, too hot, or too cold.


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